Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a new proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. It will be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net electrical power rating once completed.


Jaitapur is on the Arabian Sea coast in Ratnagiri district in the southwestern part of Maharashtra, India. The district is a part of Konkan in Ghats. It is also known as one of the best ports from the Neolithic era. In 2006, India applied to the UNESCO MAB for the Western Ghats to be listed as a protected World Heritage Site. The Sahyadri Mountain range forms the eastern boundary of the Konkan, and the Arabian Sea marks the western boundary. Jaitapur was one of the important ports in ancient and early medieval times.


It is proposed to construct 6 European Pressurized Reactors designed and developed by Areva of France, each of 1650 megawatts, thus totaling 9900 megawatts. These are the third generation pressurized water reactors (PWR).


A consortium of French financial institutions will finance this project as a loan. Both French and Indian government will give sovereign guarantee for this loan. The extent of guarantee will depend on what portion of the cost the French credit will cover. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will govern the interest rates and other terms of agreement. Interest rates and other terms are under discussion.


According to Areva lack of clarity on The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 passed in Indian Parliament in August 2010 is a hurdle in finalizing deal. This Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 has a clause deals with the legal binding of the culpable groups in case of a nuclear accident. It allows only the operator (NPCIL) to sue the manufacturers and suppliers. Victims will not be able to sue anyone. In reality, no one will be considered legally liable because the recourse taken by the operator will yield only INR1,500 crore (US$334.5 million).


Debate on nuclear power project at Jaitapur is ongoing on various levels. Environmental effects of nuclear power and geological issues have been raised by anti nuclear activists of India against this power project. Even though The Government of Maharashtra state completed land acquisition in January 2010, only 33 out of the 2,335 villagers have accepted compensation cheques as of November 2010


  • Earthquake prone site

Since Jaitapur being seismically sensitive area, the danger of an earthquake has been foremost on the minds of people. According to the Earthquake hazard zoning of India, Jaitapur comes under Zone III. This zone is called the moderate Risk Zone and covers areas liable to MSK VIII.The presence of two major creeks on the proposed site has been ignored while clearing the site.

  • Tsunami probability

The probability of a tsunami, and the damage thereof, has not been taken into account while clearing the site Nevertheless probability of a tsunami on the Arabian Sea coast is very low due to the lack of seismic activity in the ocean. Moreover Jaitapur is located on plateau probability of tsunami reaching jaitapur is quite less

  • Radioactive waste disposal

It is not clear where the nuclear waste emanating from the site will be dumped. The plant is estimated to generate 300 tonnes of waste each year. EPR waste will have about four times as much radioactive Bromine, Iodine, Caesium, etc, compared to ordinary pressurized water reactor.

  • Future of fisheries

Since the plant will use the sea water for cooling and then release warm water in the Arabian Sea, fishermen in villages around are predicting destruction of fisheries in the nearby sea. Media articles also highlight the possible human and fisheries cost of this project.

  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences Report

Social impact assessment review of the project is being conducted by the Jamsetji Tata centre for disaster management of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). According to this report, the Government of India is not fully transparent with its own citizens. The government is hiding facts about huge negative impact on the social and environmental development of the Konkan region in general and the government also manipulating notification of the area from high severity earthquake zone to moderate seismic severity zone.


Proponents are advocating the Jaitapur Project as safe, environmentally benign and economically viable source of electrical energy to meet the increasing electricity needs of India. They believe that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing India's dependence on foreign oil. The promoter of Jaitapur project is Nuclear Power Corporation of India. It is a public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (India).


Many protests were carried out by local people against the proposed nuclear power plant. On 29 December 2009, 12 January 2010, and 22 January 2010, when the government authorities visited Madban for distribution of cheques in lieu of compulsory land acquisition, the villagers refused to accept the cheques. On December 4, 2010, protests became violent when over 1500 people were detained from among thousands of protesters, who included environmentalists and local villagers. Members and leaders of the Konkan Bachao Samiti (KBS) and the Janahit Seva Samiti (organizations that are spearheading opposition to the project) were also detained. In Mumbai, members of various trade unions and social organizations came together to protest against the project. The protesters have raised serious doubts about the neutrality of the Environment Impact Assessment Report, prepared by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) which forms the basis of environmental clearance for the project, since parallel studies by the Bombay Natural History Society have shown that the project will cause substantial environmental damage. On April 18 one man was shot and killed by police and eight were injured as after protests against the plant turned violent.

“Jaitapur project will not harm environment''

The Jaitapur nuclear power plant will not adversely affect the bio-diversity of Konkan region, said Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of atomic energy commission of India.

"Solar power and nuclear power are the only two options to deal with the long term energy needs of the country," he said, adding, "There is a need to develop nuclear power plants such as Jaitapur. This plant will not affect the fisheries or mango production. There are misconceptions about the environmental impact of this plant on surrounding areas."

He said if we were to be in the race for development then the per capita electricity usage should be increased by nearly ten times than the current one. Right now the annual per capita usage of power is 650 units which should be increased to at least 5000 units per capita per year.

At present, developed countries have per capita usage of 18,000 units.

"Using the available resources such as coal and unconventional power resources will not serve the purpose," Kakodkar said adding, "If we want to see this increase then we must use solar energy or nuclear energy."

According to Kakodkar, if we don't give attention to generating nuclear power, then our dependency on oil imports will increase. It is neither beneficial for people of this country nor for the government.

Kakodkar said the development of nuclear energy will also help in dealing with the issues such as global warming, as the stress on natural resources will be reduced. Nuclear technology is safer than any other technology for producing alternatives.

Jaitapur Project Timeline

1993: The Jaitapur region experiences an earthquake the measures 6.3 on the Richter scale leaving 9,000 dead.

2003: NPCIL commissions a feasibility study in the Jaitapur region.

18 July 2005: The United States–India Nuclear Cooperation Deal is signed by George W. Bush and Manmohan Singh in which the United States agrees to support India's civilian nuclear energy program.

September 2005: NPCIL plans to establish two 1,000MW nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

October 2005: Government of India approved project "in principle."

5 October 2005: The Indian government acquires 938 Hectares land for site from five villages, Madban, Kirel, Niveli, Warilpada, and Mithagavane.

February 2006: India and France sign an agreement on nuclear cooperation and declare their intention to establish a “nuclear power park” in Jaitapur, consisting of six units of European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MW each.

6 December 2006: Agreement between India (NPCIL) and France (AREVA) for the construction of first set of two third-generation EPR (reactors) and a supply of 25 years of nuclear fuel.

31 July 2008: The total installed power capacity for India: 145,588 MWe. 2.83% of India's capacity (4120 MWe) is generated through nuclear power.

September 2008: the Nuclear Suppliers' Group agrees to make a special exception for India in the global nuclear trade regime in keeping with the US-India deal

1 October 2008: The United States Congress gives final approval to the United States-India nuclear cooperation deal first introduced in 2005.

October 2009: NPCIL announces that it is in talks with a group of French banks on a loan of 3.2 billion USD. NPCIL decides to increase the reactor size to 1,650MW.

May 2011: A delegation meets with Jairam Ramesh to bring to his notice the facts about Madban and ecologically disastrous impact of a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur.

August 2010: India passes the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010, limiting the amount in damages that a nuclear power company would have to pay in the event of a disaster.

28 November 2010: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forestry grant the Jaitapur project conditional environmental clearance.

10 December 2010: Agreement signed with AREVA for the construction of the first set of two reactors. The project is granted clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

11 March 2011: Earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

19 March 2011: Nuclear disaster in Japan intensifies anti-Jaitapur protests.

26 April 2011: The government of India announces that “The government will introduce a Bill in the next session of Parliament to create an independent and autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India that will subsume the existing Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

2012-2018: The first phase of the project commences and two reactors are to be built.


An impact assessment report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has strongly criticized the nuclear power plant being proposed at Jaitapur in the Konkan region.

The report has indicated that the project - which requires about 968 hectares of land panning five villages - will have a huge negative impact on the social as well as environmental development of not just these villages and the surrounding areas, but also on the Konkan region in general.

The findings suggest that the government subverted facts and called fertile agricultural land barren. It also says that the Jaitapur project is sitting on a high to moderate severity earthquake zone.


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