Pushing ahead with the controversial Jaitapur atomic power plant, the Indian government on Tuesday said it has decided to have a stand-alone safety system in the designs of each reactors, two of which are expected to be operational by 2019 and announced a bill would be brought to create an autonomous nuclear regulatory body. Asserting that there will be complete transparency in the country’s nuclear power programme, it also said all efforts will be made to engage the local community in Jaitapur for whom a generous new compensation package will be announced soon.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and minister of state in PMO V Narayanasamy, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, held a press conference to announce the decisions. With the prime minister according the safety of nuclear plants the highest priority, the NPCIL and Maharashtra government have assured him that all efforts would be made to engage the locals population and address their “fears and concerns in a credible manner,” Narayanasamy said. He also said government will bring a bill in Parliament for setting up an independent and autonomous nuclear regulatory authority that will succeed the current Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
Taking into consideration the cascading impact of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan following tsunami, Ramesh said it has been decided that there will be standalone safety mechanisms in the designs of the reactors, which was a very major step-forward. Maintaining that the livelihood of local fishermen and their families will continue to get the highest priority by the state government and the NPCIL, Narayanasamy said the Prime Minister has underscored the need to improve public communication and outreach. Apart from demanding a proper compensation package, the locals, who have been resorting to protests and were supported by Shiv Sena, also raised questions on the safety of the Jaitapur reactors in the backdrop of the nuclear disaster in Japan which was hit a massive earthquake followed by tsunami.