Even as he confirmed that the clearance for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant stands, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said there was a need to introduce additional safety measures in the wake of the problems faced by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant after last month’s earthquake.
“There are six plants of 1,600 MW planned at Jaitapur. There should be an independent safety system at each unit instead of an integrated safety system. The lesson from Fukushima is not to abandon nuclear power, but look at safety issues,” said Ramesh on Friday. “There is a need for a deeper think about Jaitapur, not a rethink.”
Ramesh said that his ministry would, if required, reimpose certain conditions and safeguards on the Jaitapur project following a report by a ministry-appointed committee to look into safety issues at all coastal plants.
When asked about his stance on the Jaitapur plant and reports of him having a rethink on the matter, Ramesh said he was committed to nuclear power. He said that, as someone piloting the climate change programme in India, he viewed nuclear power as the best option with reference to greenhouse gas emissions.
However, he admitted, there was a need to increase public confidence in nuclear power and an “effective public outreach programme” was badly needed.
His ministry has set up a committee headed by ocean scientist AE Muthunaigam to look into issues of environment safety at all coastal plants, including refineries and power plants, during emergencies such as a tsunami.
He said the committee was looking at the option of increasing bio shields [mangroves] along the coast near such plants.