Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fukushima disaster not to derail Jaitapur

Nuclear power plans stay, independent regulatory authority to be set up, safety accorded top priority


New Delhi: Prime minister Manmohan Singh is determined to push Indian civil nuclear programme, including the decision to go ahead with the controversial Jaitapur nuclear power plant in a phased manner, despite fears expressed by the local people and concerns of safety raised by groups of civil society, in the wake of Japan's quake-tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster last month.

He had convened a high level strategy meeting on Wednesday, at the end of which a clear statement was issued reflecting the government's determination to take on board the concerns in the wake of the Japanese nuclear plant meltdown and the dangerous rise in radiation levels as a consequence.

Government have announced that they will introduce a bill in the monsoon session of parliament to set up an independent Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India, which will replace the existing Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), and to ensure its independence and transparency it will not be part of the department of atomic energy.

It was decided to make public all the reports of the six safety committees set up after the Fukushima accident in the public domain. The government will also invite operational safety review team (OSART) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Apart from emphasising the safety aspect, the prime minister lay stress on the “need for improving public communication and outreach on the part of the department of atomic energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).” It

The Jaitapur power project will move ahead as scheduled in a phased manner. The first two reactors which will generate 1650 Mwe (megawatts) each will be constructed and commissioned by 2019, and there will be an environmental review after they are commissioned.

The environmental clearance for the Jaitapur nuclear project was given in November 2010 with its 35 conditions. At a press conference after the crucial meeting, Maharashtra chief minister Prithivraj Chauhan assured and minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh confirmed that the 35 stringent conditions will be adhered to strictly.

Apart from Chauhan and Ramesh, minister of state in the prime minister's office (PMO) Narayanswami, secretary, department of atomic energy and chairman of atomic energy commmission Srikant Banerjee, national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, prinicpal secretary in the PMO, T.K.Nair and officials of the NPCIL attended the meeting.

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