The Union ministry for environment and forests on Sunday gave its green signal for the proposed 9,900-megawatt Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant at Ratnagiri district in southern Maharashtra.
The power plant, proposed to be set up by the France-based Areva company at a cost of R15,000 crore, will be the country’s first following the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s waiver to allow international collaboration with India.
The ministry however has laid down 35 conditions and safeguards — 23 specific to the plant — against the clearance for the plant that will house six European light water reactors imported from Areva.
First, any changes in the design and technology of the plant before finalisation that could have a significant impact on the environment will have to be referred back to the ministry. In addition, a comprehensive biodiversity conservation plan will have to be prepared for the region within 12 months and a monitoring committee has to be set up to check implementation of the environment management plan.
Stating that some environmentalists will be unhappy, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said here on Sunday,
“To think that a nation of 1.2 billion and adding 10 million every year can be provided power through biogas, solar or wind energy is the height of romance. The key word is balance and we have to find a middle path which pleases neither side.” The ministry has also specified that the temperature of the discharged cooling water should be restricted to 5 degrees Celsius as against normal standards of 7 degrees Celsius.
With environmental clearance, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited wants a commercial agreement with Areva to be signed by December. “It will be a hard bargain to make power available at a low cost. It won’t be given on a platter,” said chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.