In a first-of-its-kind instance, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has been forced to relocate an upcoming power project from its selected site in Gujarat to another site in Andhra Pradesh because of resistance from local villagers and delays in land acquisition. The NPCIL has told the Pune bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it had decided to shift its project in Chhaya-Mithivirdi village of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat to Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, the site of another upcoming nuclear project.
The NPCIL was planning to set up six units of 1,100 MW each at Chhaya-Mithivirdi in technical collaboration with the US. At the Kovvada site, another six nuclear reactors, each of about 1,200 MW capacity, are being set up with the help of Westinghouse Corporation of the US.
The Pune bench of NGT was hearing a petition jointly moved by a group of villagers and some environmentalists like Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant Chauhan. The petitioners had challenged the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance granted to the project by the Environment Ministry.
On May 18, during a hearing on the petition by a two-member bench, the NPCIL counsel informed the court that the proposed project will be shifted to Kovvad “on account of delay in land acquisition at Chhaya-Mithivirdi site”. It was also conveyed to the NGT that the application for environment clearance for the project had been de-listed.
The projects at Mithivirdi and Kovvada sites are a direct result of the landmark India-US nuclear deal of 2008. At the Mithivirdi site, there was a plan to acquire 777 hectares of land from about 340 agricultural land owners. However, the project faced stiff opposition from local villagers who were not ready to give up their land.
Following the submission from the NPCIL that the project has been shifted to Andhra Pradesh, the petition was disposed of by the NGT.
“This project has been shifted out of Gujarat. But we will continue to fight against it anywhere in the world… Also, Environment Ministry and the NPCIL only said that they are shifting the project to Andhra Pradesh. They did not argue on the merit of a number of environmental and procedural issues raised by us against the project before the NGT,” Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti said.