Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to sign a pact with France to fast-track the stalled nuclear power project in Jaitapur has not gone down well with the Shiv Sena, which said it will continue to oppose the project as people in the area did not want it.
The Jaitapur nuclear power plant is being planned in the Ratnagiri district, around 400km from Mumbai.
The plant is one of the many issues on which the Sena has opposed its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – it has earlier slammed the BJP for the controversial draft development plan for the city, and editorials in its mouthpiece, Saamana, have regularly hit out at the ruling party.
On Saturday, senior Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut said his party was representing the people of the Konkan region.
“We are not against nuclear power. Even we are for it, but not at the cost of human lives. There is a possibility of damage to the environment, including air and water. The direct impact of radiation from the plant may result in the locals being exposed to dangerous diseases such as cancer. Let the PM sign the agreement with the French government, but we will continue to oppose the project,” Raut said.
However, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said the project was the need of the hour and the mind set of people opposing it needs to change. The deal between the two governments was welcome, Fadnavis told the media in Amravati.
“Nuclear safety and clean nuclear energy is the need of the hour. It is not clear what the agreement is or what its repercussions would be. But we should believe the PM would only think and act in the interest of the nation,” Fadnavis said.
The Shiv Sena had made the Jaitapur project poll issue before both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections last year. It was the Sena’s pre-poll promise to get the project scrapped if the people voted the party to power. Another big grouse for the Sena is that the BJP did not their opinion on the deal. Despite the Sena’s stance, senior BJP minister Eknath Khadse told the state legislature last week that the plant was the state government’s priority and that it will go ahead with it, whether or not it has the Sena’s support.
PM Modi signed 17 deals with the French government on Friday, including one for the Jaitapur power plant. The plant will have six reactors of 1,650 MW each, with a consolidated capacity of 9,900 MW. This will make it the largest nuclear power plant in the world.