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Rediff.com  » News » Opposition politcising Jaitapur N-plant issue: Ramesh

Opposition politcising Jaitapur N-plant issue: Ramesh

December 29, 2010 18:19 IST
Refusing to review the conditional clearance given by his ministry to the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday accused opposition parties of politicising the issue.

"As far as environment clearance is concerned, we have done all that is required and all different interest groups should not use environment as a shield or cloak behind which they start firing their guns at teh government," Ramesh told mediapersons in New Delhi.

"The issue is being politicised by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist as they are unhappy with the success of the Indo-US nuclear deal," he said.

Ramesh was asked whether the environment ministry would have a rethink over the clearance given to the power plant in view of demands in this regard.

In Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who has batted for the Jaitapur project, said he will convene a meeting of local legislators and NGOs to discuss the project coming up in the Konkan region. "There are a lot of misunderstandings about the project which need to be cleared," he said.

Ramesh said a delegation of the Maharashtra Congress unit and not the government, has gone to Jaitapur to understand why the locals are opposing the proposed plant. "I plan to convene a meeting to clear the apprehensions about the project after which I will personally visit the plant site. A team of experts will also be invited for the meeting," Chavan said.

In Jaitapur, Hussain Dalwai, a member of the Congress team, said the demands of the locals would be placed before the state government.

"There are misconceptions. Some improvement if required should be carried out. The locals say that if the conditions do not improve, they won't let the project happen," he said.

The 9,900-megawatt Jaitapur nuclear power complex is located in the ecologically sensitive coastal Maharashtra region which includes Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India is building the plant in collaboration with French nuclear designing firm Areva. Last month, the environment ministry gave a conditional go-ahead to the plant.

However, it is facing staunch opposition from the locals who fear environmental degradation in the fragile Konkan area. There have been complaints that their lands have been forcefully taken away. Locals have also voiced concerns that there was no provision for proper storage or disposal of nuclear waste.

Noting that many people have different agendas in Jaitapur, Ramesh asked those opposing the environmental clearance not to "make mockery" of the process.

"On November 28, the environment clearance for Jaitapur nuclear power project was accorded. The 35 conditions associated with the clearance have also been made public," he said.

"There are political parties which have never agreed with the fact that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh concluded the most successful civil nuclear agreement, of which Jaitapur is the first one," Ramesh said, attacking the opponents of the project.

Acknowledging that there are some problems associated with land acquisition, Ramesh said these would be looked into by the Maharashtra CM more sensitively. "We have to take local communities along with us," he said.

His comments came against the backdrop of senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat demanding a re-look into the conditional environmental clearance given to the nuclear plant. They said it has created a "great deal of disquiet" among locals as well as others across the country.

"There are issues of safety. More importantly, there are issues of environment and a conditional clearance given by the environment ministry is not enough. Minister Jairam Ramesh is on a mission mode and is trying to implement policies in that mode. Therefore I was quite surprised, indeed shocked and I found that he has even given conditional clearance of the plant. It definitely calls for a re-look," Sinha said.
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