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Earthquake prone Nuclear Power Jaitapur Plant Approval by Indian Government shocks civil society;Jairam Ramesh appears biased towards Ruling Party Pet Projects

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Indian government seems not to have learned much from the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown which has thrown millions of Japanese lives out of gear and caused massive disruption to the economy.The Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant to be built by NPCIL using Areva’s experimental nuclear reactors has got the federal government’s environmental clearance.Note the protests against the plant had got a political color with local opposition parties getting involved.A number of villagers have already been killed by police firing and further protests are expected.Note India’s activist environment minister Jairam Ramesh has proven to be selectively biased towards large industrial projects in Congress ruled states.After appearing to be hero stopping the Niyamgiri project from Vedanta,Ramesh has given the go ahead to politically favored projects.Not a surprise given the endemic corruption present in the ruling coalition which has given birth to a number of corruption scams  and scandals.Like everything,even a project of this criticality has acquired a political cover with everyone sounding their party positions without worrying about the possibility of a nuclear meltdown in India.

Note Jaitapur lies in   an earthquake region and India’s past nuclear safety record hardly gives much comfort.One of the worse Industrial Disasters the Bhopal Gas Tragedy occured in India.Safety and Environmental norms are given short shrift by the politician-businessmen nexus as can be seen in the neighbouring project in Lavasa.Many prominent persons have appealed against giving the go ahead which inlcude former atomic energy chairmen,former navy cheifs and prominenent social activists.Looks like nothing in India can be done right without the civil society make a huge hue and cry about it.

Going ahead with Jaitapur project ‘insensitive’

A group of over 80 eminent personalities, including the former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Chairman, A. Gopalakrishnan, has expressed shock at the Centre’s announcement on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in Russia that it would go ahead with the Jaitapur nuclear power plant.

This is as important as choosing the Lokpal. The life and death of millions will depend on the AERB. India’s experience with regulatory authorities in telecom, insurance and hydrocarbons is unhappy. We simply cannot afford ‘regulatory capture’ in nuclear matters,” they said.

Apart from Dr. Gopalakrishnan, the signatories included the former Chiefs of the Naval Staff, Admiral L. Ramdas and Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat; the former Major-General, S.G. Vombatkere; the former member of the Planning Commission, S.P. Shukla; the former Vice-Chancellors Deepak Nayyar and Mushirul Hasan; and the former Ambassador to the United Nations, Nirupam Sen.


Abhishek Shah

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