By Our Representative
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a notice to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited for granting coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance for intake and outfall facility for the proposed 6000 MW on Saurashtra coast of Gujarat.
The notice follows the case, which is to come up for hearing on August 20, 2015, filed by grassroots activists from Mithi Virdi region in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, backed by senior environmental activists Krishnakant and Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) against the MoEFCC and others. The grassroots activists are Shaktisinh Gohil Sarpanch of Jasapara, Hajabhai Dihora of Mithi Virdi, and Jagrutiben Gohil of Jasapara.
The nuclear power plant has been proposed for Mithi Virdi in Talaja taluka of Bhavnagar district, which is just about 40 km from Bhavnagar, known as the cultural capital of Saurashtra region. To be located on the sea coast on the western side of the Gulf of Khambhat, it will be spread across 777 hectares (ha), of which an estimated 603 ha is prime agricultural land.
The NPCIL proposes to use 4.25% enriched uranium as fuel, and will use sea water for its condenser and primary cooling purposes. The reactors are named AP-1000 – by Westinghouse Company of the USA is the designer and manufacturer – which environmentalists say, “do not have a previous operating experience.”
The environmentalists have said in a statement that the CRZ clearance order is “without jurisdiction as the present project requires Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Clearance under the EIA notification 2006, and the recommendation of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) ought to have been forwarded to the EAC dealing with Nuclear Power Plants so that a comprehensive view of the matter could have been taken.”
They point out, “The CRZ clearance order is passed without taking into consideration that the EAC for the Main Plant has found the EIA to be inadequate and has requested for more studies.” It adds, “EAC has also sought explanation from NPCIL as to why site clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was not obtained before submission for getting Environment Clearance.”
The environmentalists say, “The committee also pointed out that the EIA report did not contain any ‘base-line radioactivity data for milk samples’ and asked NPCIL to conduct the study for it. The EAC also wanted NPCIL to provide information regarding the model used for radioactivity dispersion and impact of two hills near the site for atmospheric dispersion.”
The committee, they further say, also “took strong exception to the fact that only eight water samples were collected, and even the ‘season of collection’ was not mentioned, asking the NPCIL to ‘collect data for three seasons and submit the revised report’.” On the basis of this, the committee decided to review the proposal.
“It is shocking that the impugned CRZ clearance has been granted without the NPCIL having submitted any of the additional information and data collection as stipulated by the EAC”, the environmentalists say, adding, on top of this there is going to be a jetty, a desalination plant and an intake and outfall channels.
Saying that all this together would impact “marine ecology” and therefore “defeats the very purpose of obtaining a clearance under the CRZ notification”, the environmentalists note, “The proposed Nuclear Power Plant is just next to Alang–Sosiya, the largest ship-scraping yard in the world” and the “the boundary of the Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant is just 700 meters north of the Sosiya Sector boundary of the Alang-Sosiya Ship Breaking Yard.”