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India cannot abandon nuclear power programme: Ramesh

Posted by on March 19, 2011 1 Comment

Hyderabad, March 19 (IANS) India needs to learn appropriate lessons from the nuclear disaster in Japan and take additional safeguards, but the country cannot abandon its nuclear energy programme, said Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.

It was still too early to say what will be the impact of the Japanese disaster on India’s nuclear programme, Ramesh told reporters here Saturday.

The minister said the Nuclear Power Corporation and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) have to conduct safety reviews.

“They will have to learn appropriate lessons from what happened in Japan. They will be in touch with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Ramesh said.

The minister pointed out that nuclear energy contributes three percent of the country’s power supply and its objective is to double this to six percent by 2020 and 13 percent by 2030.

Ramesh denied that there was any manipulation in the environmental assessment report to show that the Jaitapur nuclear project in Maharashtra does not fall under high seismic zone.

He claimed that all the information about the various seismic zones in the country is in public domain.

The project was given environmental clearance in November 2010 after the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) conducted environmental assessment.

“The ministry also imposed 35 conditions. But as far as safety and the management of radioactive waste is concerned, it is the responsibility of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,” he said referring to public concerns in the wake of the crisis in Japan.

“You can’t use environment as a pretext and shoot all issues,” Ramesh remarked when asked about the public protests against proposed nuclear power plant at Kovvada in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.

He said issues like land acquisition and compensation were to be dealt with by the Nuclear Power Corporation and the state government.

The assumption that the problem of pollution of inland water bodies can be solved by shifting all power plants and refineries to the coast can no longer be taken for granted in the wake of the 2004 tsunami and the recent disaster in Japan, the minister said.

He added: “In the wake of what we have seen in the last few days in the most orderly, disciplined, technologically advanced country like Japan, imagine how it will be if it happens in an open, democratic and wonderfully disorganised country like ours?”

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