Govt nod for Jaitapur N-Plant despite Sena's opposition

Govt nod for Jaitapur N-Plant despite Sena's opposition

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian exchange greetings after their joint press statement in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

Notwithstanding opposition by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's ally Shiv Sena, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government on Saturday signalled it would move ahead to build the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reviewed the progress on implementation of the Industrial Way Forward Agreement, which Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Électricité de France inked earlier this year for construction of the 9900 MWe nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. They also adopted a plan of action for the coming months to proceed toward building the plant.

“We have reviewed the status of the EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) project in Jaitapur, and adopted an action plan to guide our work for the coming months so as to advance as efficiently as possible towards the final decision for building the power plant,” Le Drian said after his meeting with Swaraj in New Delhi.

Swaraj noted that the NPCIL and the EDF had made substantial progress in implementing the Industrial Way Forward agreement, which was inked during French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to New Delhi on March 10 last. She and French Foreign Minister adopted the status of progress for implementation of the Industrial Way Forward agreement.

Shiv Sena – an ally of the ruling BJP in Maharashtra as well as in the Centre – has been opposing the project and arguing that proposed nuclear power plant would “adversely” impact the fragile ecosystem in the coastal region. The fishermen and farmers living in and around the proposed site of the project have also been opposing it.

The Greenpeace, a non-profit environmental organization, has been arguing that the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) would make the region vulnerable to disaster as the site of the project fell within an area which was classified as prone to earthquake. Two anti-nuclear organizations – DiaNuke of India and Beyond Nuclear of the United States – earlier this year issued a joint statement, protesting the move to add momentum to the JNPP. They said that France should not impose the “untested, expensive and technically troubled” EPR reactors on India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government, however, decided to go ahead with the project.

The BJP-led Maharashtra Government on November 23 informed the State Legislative Council that the land acquisition for the project had been completed.

The civil nuclear energy cooperation between India and France did figure prominently even when French Foreign Minister called on Prime Minister later on Saturday.

“Six EPRs (to be installed in JNPP) account for a total capacity of almost 10 GW, which is a significant contribution to India’s aim of producing 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030, in keeping with its commitments made ahead of the Paris Climate Conference,” said Le Drian, adding, “The Jaitapur project will also contribute to Make in India as it involves transfers of production, technology, joint research and training.”

The NPCIL and French nuclear energy giant AREVA had inked a Memorandum of Understanding on JNPP on February 4, 2009. The EDF later took over the AREVA.