A day after India and France inked agreements to collaborate on the controversial Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar on Saturday said the Jaitapur project would generate cheaper power without damaging the environment, and will help Maharashtra meet its energy needs.
Addressing a media conference in Nasik, Mr. Pawar said objections were raised when the Tarapur Atomic Power Station was set up, but Maharashtra has benefited by the additional power it generated at a cheaper price.
“Our experience with the Tarapur project has been good. The project generated cheaper power, and there was no environmental damage. The Prime Minister has signed agreements for nuclear power, and the Maharashtra government and people should support them. The government should try to persuade those opposing it,” Mr. Pawar said without naming the Shiv Sena.
The Shiv Sena has been strongly opposing the project, and differences over the 9,900MW project could become a flashpoint between the BJP-Sena alliance in Maharashtra.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has on several occasions demanded that the BJP-led NDA government relocate the project from its present location in Ratnagiri district in Konkan to the Gujarat coast if it wishes.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut said: “The development (agreements with Areva) is unfortunate for the farmers of Konkan which is blessed with abundant natural beauty. The poison from the nuclear plant will destroy the region and deprive the fishermen and farmers of their livelihood.”
Asked if the Sena would continue to oppose the project now, Mr. Raut said “Mr. Uddhav Thackeray has clearly said that if local people want the project, we have no objections. But if local people are opposed to it, we will support them.”
Reacting to the development, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters: “India needs nuclear power and we have trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he will do whatever is in the interest of India.”