All concerns I raised have been addressed, says Jairam Ramesh
Faced with opposition over setting up the nuclear power project at Jaitapur, the Maharashtra government will soon announce a new generous compensation package for the people who will be displaced and will reach out to all political parties and engage in a dialogue.
On the other hand, faced with a volley of questions over his suggestion to “pause” the nuclear power programme in the country, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday clarified that the concerns he raised had been addressed.
“I always believe that nuclear power should be there but there were conditions which I had set, including setting up an independent nuclear regulatory authority of India and additional safety measures, which have now been accepted,” he explained. There was a huge safety wall around the Jaitapur reactor, which was an additional safeguard, and both the reactors would have stand-alone operational and safety measures.
“A generous new compensation package has been worked out by the State government and the National Power Corporation of India, which will be announced soon,'' Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters here after a meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which cleared the project. At the meeting, Dr. Singh underscored that safety of nuclear power plants was a matter of the highest priority and there was a need for improving public communication and outreach on the part of the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited that would run the project.
Mr. Chavan pointed out that detailed presentations had been made to all political parties and in the Assembly as well. “Political dialogue will continue,” he said adding that “protests should not be based on misconception.”
Ensuring transparency in the nuclear power sector, Mr. Ramesh said the reports of six committees set up after the Fukushima incident would be made public and the government was in contact with officials in Japan to ascertain the impact of the disaster and take preventive measures.
Mr. Ramesh said protests were not unusual as there were doubts and fears about nuclear power plants, particularly after the Fukushima incident. “And it is for the government to allay these fears but if people are totally against nuclear energy then we can go on talking to them but achieve nothing. We can only debate with such people,” he said.