New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for a review of nuclear safety systems in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said that the government could take a relook at environment concerns related to the Jaitapur nuclear power plant.

Ramesh said, “We will certainly be in touch with NPCIL and if additional safeguards have to be built in as part of the environmental clearance, we will relook at it.”

Ramesh was responding to a question whether Government is going to have a relook at the Jaitapur project amid demands for reconsideration in the wake of damages to a nuclear
facility in Japan that has triggered radioactive leaks.

"This is appropriately a subject that has to be dealt with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board," the Minister said, adding "the nuclear catastrophe (in Japan) is a matter of concern for all of us."

Ramesh while addressing a conclave on Business and Climate Change however said India should "go beyond the immediate crisis" that has hit the nuclear industry and recognise the nuclear option.

The Prime Minister had made a detailed statement on Monday asking Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to relook at safety norms. He had assured the country on Monday that its atomic power generators were safe.

“The Department of Atomic Energy and its agencies, including the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, have been instructed to undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems of our nuclear power plants, particularly with a view to ensuring that they would be able to withstand the impact of large disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes,” Manmohan Singh had told the Lok Sabha.

The Atomic Energy Commission on Monday allayed fears on the safety of the proposed 9,900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) project coming up in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, saying it was absolutely 'safe' and could even withstand a tsunami of the magnitude experienced by Japan.

CPM for halting N-project

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Tuesday called for an immediate halt to the Jaitapur nuclear power project in view of the nuclear meltdown in Japan.

The CPI-M said locals were totally opposed to the location of the plant in their area and had refused to accept the forcible acquisition of their lands for the project.

The CPI-M said these reactors, based on the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) technology, have not been commissioned for operation anywhere in the world.

Goa MP for plan to protect Kaiga

Meanwhile, Goa Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik said in a statement released in Panaji, quoting his speech in Parliament, that the government should ensure that the horrific Fukushima experience does not get repeated in this coastal state.

He said the Central government should chalk out a foolproof strategy to protect the Kaiga nuclear power plant, which was giving Goa 'constant nightmares' in the wake of the tsunami-triggered crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, less than 25 km from the state's southern border with Karnataka. 

He said a study conducted by environmental engineer Shivaji Rao submitted to the Goa government had estimated that evacuation of 2-5 km area around the reactor must be completed within six hours; within 12 hours for an area 5-25 km away, within 24 hours for an area 25-75 km away and within 48 hours for distances beyond 75 km of an accident. 

“As far as Goa is concerned, areas up to Quepem and Chauri fall within 77 km of Kaiga; while Panaji, Ponda and Bicholim are within 115 km of the nuclear plant,” Naik said.

JPN/Agencies