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Fishing village gets ready for country’s largest nuke power park

May 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Nisha Nambiar in The Indian Express

May 27, 2008

The fishing hamlet of Madban in Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri district will be home to the country’s largest nuclear power park. This is where the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is planning to set up a 10,000 MW nuclear power park as per a gazette notification by the Maharashtra government on January 12, 2006.

The NPCIL is acquiring 940 hectares in Madban and the adjacent Warilpada village for the main project and also from Karel, Niveli and Mithgavane for the residential colony, some three km away. While the villagers have their reservations over this mega project, the Centre has given its green signal and the state has been asked to speed up the land acquisition process.

A fortnight ago, the state government issued notices to each of the households under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. The villagers have also been informed about a joint valuation of existing agriculture crops, structures, forest and horticulture trees on the proposed land under acquisition.

Poonam Mayekar, a former sarpanch who has formed a protest group with other villagers, says they are worried about the environmental repercussions of the nuclear park in the vicinity. “We are fishermen and with such plants coming up, it will definitely be a threat to our livelihood,” he said.

However, C.B. Jain, NPCIL associate director of the Jaitapur site, allayed the villagers’ fears: “While acquiring land for the project site and residential colony, it has been ensured that not a single family is displaced. All possible control measures as well as regular environmental survey will be carried out by an independent agency under the Department of Atomic Energy.”

Identified as part of the government’s plan to enhance nuclear power capacity in the country by 6800 MW along the coastline, the three other sites identified are Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu, Kakrapar in Gujarat and Rawalbhata in Rajasthan.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, will soon submit a comprehensive environmental impact assessment study. This will be followed by the NPCIL pushing for the Ministry of Environmental and Forests nod for the project.

Praveen Gavanhakar, a resident of the village who has formed the Janahit Seva Samiti and has been fighting against land acquisition, said that till date there has been no project report or environmental assessment. Gavanhakar used the Right to Information to get records showing that the site falls in a seismic zone four area and that there were 91 seismic recordings from 1985 to 2005.

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Ratnagiri atomic power plant gets ‘green’ light

May 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Girish Kuber in Economic Times

May 14, 2008

This could bring some cheer to a power-starved country reeling under summer heat. A biodiversity survey conducted to assess the environmental impact of the proposed 10,000 mw Jaitapur atomic power plant appears to have given the ‘green light’ to it.

The Rs 50,000-crore plant, to be the country’s biggest once commissioned, will come up at Madban Village in Rajapur Taluka of Ratnagiri district along the Konkan coast. Expected to be a third generation design, most likely a European pressurised water reactor (EPR) type, the pant would have benefited from the Indo-US civilian nuclear co-operation deal, which, at the moment, appears to be going nowhere.

However, with or without any deal with the US, the Indian nuclear establishment is planning to go ahead with the project. “The proposed plant would come up on land of hard rock and as such won’t affect flora and fauna in the region. However, residential facilities to be created for the staff may impact the forest,” an official from Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, which carried out the biodiversity survey of the region, told ET.

The Dapoli varsity, which was engaged by National Environment Engineering Research Institute, studied an area falling within 26-km radius of the project site from January 2007 to December 2007. The findings of the survey were submitted last month.

The study found that the region has some endangered species of trees like Concanense, Cucumis Setosus, Impatiens Pulcherrma and Curcuma Amada. The region is also home to birds like Indian Pied Hornbill, Spotted Owlet, White Bellied Sea Eagle and Indian Peacock, the study noted.

“What needs to be done is to create a mechanism to protect them. The proposed project would not threaten their existence,” an official associated with the exercise said. The proposed plant would also not threaten the mangroves on the cost.

“This is the least the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) can do. The proposed project will not in a major way impact the biodiversity of the region. Whatever damage it may inflict will be fully repairable,” he said.

The team of researchers also found fears about the hot water that will be discharged from the plant in to the Arabian sea and its impact on marine life ‘baseless’. They dubbed ‘preposterous’ a claim that hot water will destroy fish and other marine life.

According to NPCIL sources, efforts are on to run the proposed project with advanced EPRs designed and developed by Framatome (Areva) and Electric De France in France and Siemens in Germany. The plant will have six units of 1,600 mw each.

The six units are estimated to cost over Rs 50,000 crore. As per the initial plan, NPCIL will contribute 30% of equity while the rest will be raised through various instruments, including multilateral loans.