Maintaining that concern over Jaitpur nuclear plant in Maharashtra was genuine after the earthquake and tsnunami devastation in Japan, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today suggested a “pause” for the project till a transparent atomic policy is formulated.

He said the Jaitapur plant can be put on hold till various issues are sorted out.

“We cannot abandon the project. But I am neither pleading reversal or fast progression as a pause is the best option till a transparent nuclear policy is formulated”, Mr. Ramesh told reporters here adding “I have conveyed my sentiments to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh”.

He said “we should not have any secret atomic policy”.

Mr. Ramesh, who was here to lay the foundation stone of a bio-remediation project for cleaning of the Budha Nulla, said he was against use of bullet on demonstrators in Jaitapur.

“In a democratic set-up, the law maintaining agencies must learn to settle the issue amicably”, he said adding the State government must not fire on the protestors.

One person was killed in police firing on anti-nuclear plant protesters in Jaitapur early this week.

Accompanied by the local MP and Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, Mr. Ramesh said the bio-remediation project is the largest project of its kind where bacteria would be used for cleaning of the water-bodies (Buddha Nallaha).

The Rs 16 crore project will be fully funded by the Union Ministry for Environment.

There are five places across the country where such bio-remediation projects have been launched. He said, the effects of the project will be seen within one year of its launch.

The minister said the project will be closely monitored not only by the union ministry, but by experts as well as the public representatives including the media.

He said effective monitoring was essential for all these projects so that these are taken to their logical conclusion.

He hoped the State government will implement the projects as had been promised to him by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal when they had met him in Delhi recently.

Mr. Ramesh said that during the last one year the Union Environment Ministry had sanctioned Rs 316 crores for various projects in Punjab.

During a ten-year period between 1998 to 2010, the Environment Ministry had sanctioned Rs 216 crores to Punjab.

The minister expressed concern over environmental degradation in Ludhiana district.

He said Ludhiana is the richest district in the country but is not as clean as it should have been. “Ludhiana is rich but not clean”, he remarked, adding more attention needed to be given to the cleanliness.

Giving details of the project, he said, the bio-remediation project is cost effective and cheaper than conventional treatment, easy to handle and does not need highly-skilled manpower and electricity to run the treatment process.

He said the Central Pollution Control Board had identified seven firms for executing bioremediation projects in open drains especially for the drains adjoining the river Ganga.