Ahmedabad: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said that the nuclear power plant project at Mithivirdi—the first after India and the US signed the civil nuclear agreement in 2008—is being shifted to Kavvada, Andhra Pradesh.
The NGT order, dated 18 May, which was recently uploaded on its website, said that the change in stance was due to delay in land acquisition at Chhaya-Mithivirdi site.
The 6,000 mega-watt nuclear power plant project, proposed to be built by Nuclear Power Corp. of India (NPCIL), has been facing protests from locals who refused to give up their land for the project. The area is rich with green vegetation and mango orchards known for its Sosiya variety.
A group of farmers led by village head Shaktisinh Gohil had challenged the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance given to the project in March 2015 before the NGT.
Various NGOs and activists had come out in the farmers’ support. Since 2009, when the Indian government gave an in-principle approval to the Rs50,000 crore Mithivirdi nuclear project, these anti-nuclear activists and scientists have been distributing pamphlets and showing films on what happened at nuclear plants in Russia’s Chernobyl and Fukushima in Japan.
Mithivirdi was chosen as a preferred site by NPCIL after consulting the state government, which decided to scrap its proposed port project at the same location.
Justice U.D. Salvi, who passed the NGT order, said that NPCIL, in a letter dated 27 March, said that the ministry of environment and forest had agreed to shift the project to Andhra Pradesh.
In 2012, US-based Westinghouse Electric Co. Llc and NPCIL signed an agreement for the construction work. The project was expected to be completed by 2022-23, over three stages. NPCIL planned to acquire 777hectares of land to build a 1,000MW nuclear project, mainly covering Jasapara and two other nearby villages. It also proposed to acquire another 100hectares to build a township for its employees.
Krishnakant Chauhan of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, a non-profit organization working on environment issues in Gujarat, who was fighting the case on behalf of farmers, called the NGT decision a landmark judgment that would set a precedent for other nuclear power plants in India and elsewhere.
Another activist, Rohit Prajapti, who was also fighting the case on behalf of the farmers, said that Westinghouse Electric Co. decided to shift the project to Andhra Pradesh after it saw farmers protesting in the region for so many years.
Asia’s largest ship recycling yards at Alang, hardly 10km from the nuclear site, was also likely to get affected if the nuclear project came up.