The 9900-MWe Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project has received environmental clearance, but with quite a few strings attached.

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh announced the clearance with 35 conditions and safeguards during a press conference here on Sunday. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan termed it a historic day and said that the project would see an investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore.

“It is the largest engineering project ever conceived in the country and the kind of investment it will bring is unimaginable,” he said. This is the second big environmental clearance in a row for the State after the Ministry of Environment and Forests cleared the decks for the Navi Mumbai international airport last week.

The Jaitapur project will come up in collaboration with French giant Areva, which will supply uranium and reactor units, according to a booklet released by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. An agreement between Areva and NPCIL is expected to be signed during French President Nicolas Sarkozy's India visit next month.

The project involves setting up six units of 1650 MWe capacity each. The first unit is expected to be commissioned by 2017-18. It will help Maharashtra reduce its energy deficit. “Nearly 1000 hectares of land has already been acquired for the project,” Mr. Chavan said.

As for the grievances of the local community, Mr. Chavan said that the State government had formed an Empowered Group of Ministers to enhance the compensation.