With the Maharashtra government reaffirming its commitment for the Jaitapur nuclear power project, researchers and activists have again raised their voices against the 9900 megawatt project, claiming it would cause “irreversible damage” to the environment.
“India can do without a nuclear power plant as it will only result in irreversible damage,” professor H M Desarda, a former member of the state planning commission, said. Desarda was addressing a gathering of researchers and activists on the occasion of World Environment Day today.
Desarda said the need of the hour was utilization of renewable sources of energy rather than setting up nuclear power stations. He added that renewable sources are economically more viable, safer and desirable.
The scientists based their opposition to the Jaitapur project on the fact that the area lies on a fault line, saying the country would more susceptible to natural calamities as a result.
Radiation expert Dr V T Padmanabhan cited figures regarding the Kudankulam plant. “Statistics from the region show that between 1900 and 1950, one earthquake of magnitude 7 on the Richter scale occurred every year. From 1950 till 2000, the number increased to 1.7 earthquakes a year. There were 15 earthquakes from 2000 till 2009 but from 2010 to 2015, 17 earthquakes of more than 7 magnitude have shaken the region,” he said.
The panelists cited a 2002 “site selection” report by Dr V K Chaturvedi, former chairman and managing director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. Madban plateau, chosen as the site of the atomic reactor, is geologically unstable as it is the region of active faults, the report says.
Marine biologist Dr Shashi Menon spoke of the possibility of a radioactive leak which can result in damage to marine life. “It can have massive impact on plankton, which forms the base of the food chain,” Menon added.
The 9,900-MW project was cleared by the Manmohan Singh government and pushed by the Prithviraj Chavan dispensation in Maharashtra. The present state government led by the BJP has committed its support to the project in spite of protests from its alliance partner Shiv Sena.