Note:After according environmental approval for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park in November 2010 although with 35 conditions, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) is of the view that Union Environment Minister is being used by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) and Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to act as shield for them on matters regarding environmental clearance and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) parameters especially in the aftermath of March 11, 2011 nuclear catastrophe in Japan.
It has been claimed by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) through a statement issued on April 26, 2011 following a meeting held by the Prime Minister with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Minister of State for Environment & Forests, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy. Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, National Security Advisor, Chairman Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and other senior officials.
The Prime Minister chose to ignore the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl (although he held a relevant meeting) in the same way as it pretended ignorance about March 28th as the anniversary of the largest nuclear accident in the history of US at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. It made a passing reference to "safety concerns arising out of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan and their impact on India’s overall nuclear energy programme".
TWA has consistently disagreed with reference to "non-fossil options such as nuclear energy" in the Prime Minister's National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). TWA does approve of solar energy and wind energy mentioned in the NAPCC.
According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), currently, the share of renewable based capacity is 10.9% (excluding large hydro) of the total installed capacity of 170 GW in the country, up from 2% at the start of the 10th Plan Period (2002-2007). This includes 13,065.78 MW of wind, 2,939 MW of small hydro power, 1,562 MW of (bagasse based) cogeneration, 997 MW of biomass, 73.46 MW of 'waste to power' and 17.80 MW of solar PV for grid connected renewables at the end of 2010.
At the plenary session of BRICS on April 14, 2011 in Sanya, China, Dr Manmohan Singh said, "Nuclear safety has emerged as a major source of concern the world over after the tragedy in Japan. We should cooperate in this area, as well as in disaster relief and management" but sadly Sanya Declaration that was adopted reads, "Nuclear energy will continue to be an important element in future energy mix of BRICS countries. International cooperation in the development of safe nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should proceed under conditions of strict observance of relevant safety standards and requirements concerning design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants."
Continuing the same tragic trend, the Joint Statement: Consolidating the Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Republic of Kazakhstan issued on April 16, 2011 in Astana, Kazakhstan reads, "The sides highly appreciated the signing of the Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The sides noted the need for expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation in this area while adhering to their existing obligations under multilateral nuclear regimes."
Interacting with the media enroute Astana to New Delhi, Dr Singh said, "...we have I think a capability to produce small nuclear reactors choosing natural uranium".
When he was asked, Post Fukushima, why are we still so convinced about going ahead with nuclear power?, he answered saying, "Well I think we are too close to the Japanese disaster and in the background of what has happened, there is a certain amount of nervousness about extensive use of nuclear energy even for peaceful purposes. But I am convinced that when all is said and done, when cool headed discussions take place about the future of energy, what are problems with coal, what are the problems with other hydrocarbons, in terms of their impact on climate change. I think there would be a reconsideration of the role of nuclear energy as one of the essential options which all countries must keep in order to deal with the problems like climate change and energy security."
TWA disagrees with Prime Minister's diagnosis of the problem and his solution. His reference to nuclear power to deal with climate change is completely insincere and misplaced.
The PMO statement of 26th April says, "the Jaitapur project would be implemented in a phased manner with two 1650 MWe reactors to begin with." Attempting to assure Indian citizens, it adds, "A comprehensive environmental impact assessment of these reactors will be done when both are operational by 2019."
Environment Minister's reported statement on review of four nuclear reactors to be set up in Kudankulam appears to be a attention diversion tactics to facilitate the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park unmindful of unprecedented bitter opposition.
Like all the other concerned groups, TWA too realizes that the struggle against nuclear power projects in Jaitapur and Kudankulam is part of the nation-wide movement against civil and non-civil nuclear projects.
CRZ parameters of Kudankulam project to be reviewed: Jairam
New Delhi, Apr 28 (PTI) A day after a Government panel held back approval for four nuclear reactors to be set up in Tamil Nadu''s Kudankulam, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today said all the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) parameters of the project will be reviewed.
"All CRZ parameters of the Kudankulam project will be reviewed," Ramesh said reacting to a question on the media reports that the Ministry panel has held back the approval saying disposing of water into the sea may affect marine life.
According to the reports, the panel''s decision was also influenced by the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan where the nuclear reactors have been affected due to an unprecedented tsunami preceded by high magnitude earthquake.
The environment clearance to the four reactors of 1,000 MWs each, being constructed jointly by Indian and Russian governments was given in 2009.
The Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) on coastal zone regulation put it on hold when the clearance under CRZ 1991 was sought by the project proponents Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL)
April 26, 2011
Prime Minister held a meeting today with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Minister of State for Environment & Forests, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy. Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, National Security Advisor, Chairman Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and other senior officials were present.
The meeting reviewed the current status of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project as well as safety concerns arising out of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan and their impact on India’s overall nuclear energy programme.
Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Department of Atomic Energy apprised the Prime Minister about the doubts and concerns expressed by the local people in Jaitapur about the project, and the measures being taken to address these concerns. Chief Minister pointed out that detailed presentations had been made to all political parties and in the State Assembly as well. Political dialogue will continue. A generous new compensation package has been worked out by the State Government and NPCIL and will be announced soon.
It was also recalled that environmental approval for the Jaitapur Power Park was accorded in November 2010 and Chairman, NPCIL reiterated that each of the 35 conditions stipulated as part of the environmental clearance will be adhered to in a fully transparent manner.
It was noted that the Jaitapur project would be implemented in a phased manner with two 1650 MWe reactors to begin with. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment of these reactors will be done when both are operational by 2019.
CM, Maharashtra and NPCIL assured the Prime Minister that all efforts will be made to engage local communities and address their fears and concerns in a credible manner. It was agreed that livelihoods of local fishermen and their families must continue to get the highest priority by the state government and NPCIL.
Several aspects of the overall nuclear energy programme of the country in the light of the unfortunate developments in Japan were also discussed. Prime Minister underscored that safety of nuclear power plants is a matter of highest priority and that there is a need for improving public communication and outreach on the part of the Department of Atomic Energy and NPCIL. He also emphasized that nuclear safety should be seen not as a static but as a continuously evolving process.
Based on these the following decisions were taken:
1. The Government will introduce a Bill in the next session of Parliament to create an independent and autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India that will subsume the existing Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
2. The initial results of the six safety review Committees set up by the Government of India after the Fukushima accident will be made public. Action taken on previous safety reviews will be put in the public domain.
3. The best available expertise will be used to ensure the highest levels of safety. The Government will invite the Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) of IAEA to assist in its own safety reviews and audit.
4. Each reactor in Jaitapur will have its own individual stand alone safety and operation systems.
5. All reactors and technologies, whether indigenous or imported, will without exception meet the safety standards that are stipulated by the regulatory authorities, and there will be complete transparency in the functioning of the nuclear power programme.
It was reiterated that India’s energy needs are vast and growing and nuclear energy is an important clean energy option. This will be pursued with full regard to the safety, livelihood and security of the people. Government’s intention is to ensure nuclear power that is safe, secure and economical. Against this background the commitment to India’s three stage indigenous nuclear energy programme was reaffirmed. While imported reactors have their place, indigenously-designed and developed reactors will continue to be at the very foundation of this programme.
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