The consultants for the proposed Mithi Virdi nuclear power project have told the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) that they have applied to be registered as qualified assessors for nuclear power projects,said GPCB officials.
Officials said the public hearing for the project will therefore be held as scheduled on March 5,even as environmentalists have petitioned Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan to cancel the hearing because of the issue. They said they have not received any response from the ministry. The public hearing will be held as scheduled on March 5, said Bhavnagar District Collector V P Patel.
The GPCB had last week asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to clarify why it had hired an unqualified consultant to assess its proposed 6000 MW project. The NPCIL had referred the matter to the Engineers India Limited (EIL),the consultants,to respond directly.
At the end of the draft environment impact assessment report for the project,EIL,a public-sector undertaking,has attached a copy of its QCI-NABET certification in which it shows it has been given conditional accreditation to assess category B thermal power plants.
Category B Thermal Power Plants are those with a capacity of 500 MW or less,which can be cleared by state authorities. Category A power plants,on the other hand,refers to plants of higher capacities,and need clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). All nuclear power plants fall in category A.
No consultant in the country has been accredited to assess nuclear power plants,although the NPCIL already runs six such units with a total capacity of 4,780 MW generated from 20 reactors.
The proposed plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district will be the first such project built using American nuclear technology.