The already delayed 6,000 Mw nuclear power plant at Mithivirdi in Gujarat is likely get delayed further as (EAC) expert appraisal committee (nuclear) of the union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to reassess environment impact of the project. The panel found the present environment impact assessment (EIA) report lacking clarity on large number of issues including radioactive and land acquisition.
The proposed nuclear power plant (NPP) with six light water reactors (LWR) of 1000 Mw capacity each, is being be set up 40 km from Bhavnagar and is located on sea coast on west side of the Gulf of Khambhat, and will be spread across 777 hectare. Out of 777 hectare a total of 603 hectare area falls under agricultural land (both kharif and rabi) and the remaining land includes waste land, forest, scrub land and water body. It is proposed to be executed in three stages. The first will is likely to be complete in 2019-20 followed by stage-II in 2021-22 and stage-III in 2023-24.
EAC has also sought explanation from NPCIL, the project proponent, as to why site clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was not obtained before submission for getting environment clearance. 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 model used for radioactivity dispersion and impact of two hills near the site for atmospheric dispersion.
It took strong exception to the fact that only eight water samples were collected, and even “season of collection” was not mentioned, asking the NCPIL to “collect data for three seasons and submit” the revised report.
The committee made it clear that the proposal will be reconsidered only after submission of the information sought. “As per the existing criteria, proposal will be considered for EC (environment clearance) only after submission of site clearance and approval of the forest land under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,” it observed.
It also suggested constitution of a sub-committee which would visit the project site of the NPP to assess sensitivity in the surrounding environment and suggest protection measures to further improve the environment.
A top official of NPCIL in Gujarat said that this move could cause delay in the execution of the project. “Obtaining site clearance from AERB is under process along with acquisition of the forest land from the state forest department,” he said. On the issue of land acquisition he said that it would be done as per the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
The committee has further asked the NPCIL to submit the location of the Near Surface Disposal Facilities (NSDF) for radioactive waste on the map, along with “its impact on land and groundwater”, current status and a detailed study of “effect of historical tsunamis”, and a copy of the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the state irrigation department “since the project is located in a command area”.
The Mithivirdi NPP has been facing stiff opposition from locals on the grounds that it would cause irreparable damage to environment.
In March last year, during the public hearing on the EIA report, over 4,000 farmers from villages of Mithivirdi, Jaspara, Mandva and Khadapar had opposed the NPP claiming that it would harm the environment and affect their livelihood. They further claimed that land of their villages would be lost due to the project.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SOUGHT
- Site clearance by AERB
- Actual land available for the project and documents indicating land acquired so far
- Commitment that independent approval for township will be sought from the concerned authority and concerned department
- A copy of the CRZ clearance for the foreshore facilities
- Data for three seasons may be collected and submitted
- Current status of Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R)
- Action proposed for conservation of endangered species