Jaitapur n-project eco-clearance extension expected soon

Mumbai, Dec 2 (IANS) The extension of the five-year environmental clearance granted to Maharashtra’s upcoming Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project — which lapsed on November 26, 2015, may come shortly, a top official said on Wednesday.

JNPP project director S. Singharoy said most of the pre-project works at the site have been completed and some others are going on as intended, and the ministry of environment and forests has been given regular updates on the status every six months.

“We have also initiated the normal process to get the extension of Environment Clearance for the project early this year… We are hopeful of getting it soon,” Singharoy told IANS.

The JNPP, being set up by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) in collaboration with Areva S.A. France, will have six plants with a capacity of 1,650 MW each or a total of 9,900 MW, making it the biggest in the world in terms of net electrical power ratings.

The Konkan Bachao Samiti (KBS), which has been spearheading the movement against the JNPP, on Wednesday demanded that “all work on (project) site should cease immediately”.

In a letter addressed to union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar, KBS chief Adwait Pednekar said the “partial and conditional environmental clearance” granted on November 26, 2010, by the Centre to JNPP for five years lapsed on November 26, 2015.

“Since the JNPP does not have an environmental clearance, all work on site should cease immediately. Continuation of any work on site would be illegal,” he said, asking the NPCIL chairman K.C. Purohit to issue stop-work notice to the project.

The five-year environmental clearance was granted vide a letter on November 26, 2010, signed by Om Prakash, deputy director in the ministry of environment and forests.

The point No.6 states: “The environmental clearance accorded shall be valid for a period of 5 years to start of production operations by the power plant (JNPP).”

However, official sources said although the process to get extension of the environmental clearance has already been initiated, its current status is not known.

The KBS has already warned of a fresh round of agitation if any attempts are made to extend the lapsed environmental clearance without following the due processes.

“The circumstances have completely changed now as far the environmental aspects for JNPP are concerned. Moreover, the original clearance did not take into account the principal hazards of radioactivity or how to deal with,” Pednekar told IANS on Tuesday.

Pednekar claimed that “there is no provision for granting extension to a lapsed clearance”, but NPCIL officials dismissed the contention. They, however, do not rule out possible delays on this count.

According to Pednekar, any fresh environmental clearance can be granted only after going through the processes right from the start and it could take minimum one or two years to complete.

This could prove an embarrassment to the Indian government with French President Francois Hollande coming to India next month as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

The JNPP is coming up in NPCIL’s collaboration with French company Areva S.A at Maharashtra’s Madban village on a 10 square km area,in Ratnagiri district of Konkan. The final costing is not yet clear.

KBS activist Vivek Monteiro said that in case the due processes are not followed for granting fresh environmental clearances, they would “challenge it legally”.

Interestingly, the environmental clearance was granted for five years “to the start of production operations” of the JNPP, but at present the project is nowhere near this target, nor does it figure in the NPCIL’s current list of ‘Projects Under Construction’.

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