Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday assured a delegation that apprehensions about the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri district in Konkan would be conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A delegation led by Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde met Javadekar to discuss concerns raised by BJP ally Shiv Sena and villagers in Konkan over likely impact of the nuclear plant on people of the region. Javadekar said, “The nuclear plant comes under the department held by Modi. I will certainly convey the issues presented to me to the prime minister.”
The Shiv Sena has been agitating against the project over perceived impact on the eco-sensitive Konkan and livelihoods of fishermen. The Sena had demanded shifting of the project from Maharashtra last year.
The BJP has taken the initiative to address concerns of the ally. Senior Sena leader Subash Desai and Vinayak Raut (MP) were part of the delegation. “Apart from livelihoods of the fishermen, compensation remains a critical factor which has not been addressed,” the Sena said.
The leaders said when Tarapur plant was being commissioned, fishermen were assured their livelihoods would not be affected. Once it was operational, a notification barred fishing within 10 kilometres of the plant.
The delegates said, “Villagers in Jaitapur fear a similar fate.”
“I am aware of people’s feeling towards this project as well as status of the project. Although it does not come under my ministry, I will meet PM Narendra Modi and hand over the memorandum that has suggestions of the delegation. We will ensure people’s issues will be addressed before the project takes off,” said Javadekar.
Allaying fears of unemployment among villagers whose land falls under the Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA) of the Western Ghats as per the Kasturirangan report, Javadekar assured no decision on declaration of ESAs will be taken without consulting all stakeholders in each state.
Tawde said unlike the Madhav Gadgil committee report on Western Ghats, the Kasturirangan report was technical and had not taken public opinion into consideration. The delegation expressed concern over a clause in the Kasturirangan report that prohibits extraction of a minor mineral like “chira” laterite which villagers use to build houses. Any activity that is part of the livelihood of villagers and does not cause major pollution should be allowed in ESAs, the delegation told Javadekar.
“We have to protect the ecosystem but focus on development; we will follow the democratic process. The delegation has provided some good suggestions… ESAs will be declared only after consultation with representatives in all states,” said Javadekar.
According to the draft notification on ESA of Western Ghats based on the Kasturirangan report, 17,340 sqkm in Maharashtra, which includes around 2,133 villages, are in the ESA.