Darshan Desai | DailyMail

The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF), which has fast-tracked other green clearances, has ripped apart the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL)’s environment impact assessment report on the proposed atomic power plant near Gujarat’s South Saurashtra coast, citing lack of clarity on several issues.

In what has come as a big relief to farmers protesting against the nuclear plant in Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district, the MoEF’s Experts Appraisal Committee (Nuclear) has asked the NPCIL to immediately “revise” and “re-submit” its environment impact assessment (EIA) report.

The committee has come down heavily on the nuclear corporation for taking three long years to submit its proposal for environmental clearance, after the site clearance of the project by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

Mithi Virdi_RALLY_TRACTOR

The experts panel asserted that this delay has complicated the implementation of the project further since the new Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, has come into force.

The new law has mandated 400 per cent compensation as against the market value for the land acquired.

The MoEF’s committee has sought details about the “status of rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R)” according to the new land acquisition Act.

It wants the NPCIL to inform the extent of land available in the area after a plan to construct a staff township with the nuclear plant has been dropped.

The nuclear body is facing several more questions.

The committee needs information about the status of 21 hectares of land to be acquired from the Gujarat Forest Department. The corporation would also need to furnish a copy of the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance for the foreshore facilities, and a note on safety aspects, as seen by the Gujarat Coastal Zone Regulatory Authority.

The experts committee does not stop at that. It has cited several key deficiencies in the EIA report, and asserts that it does even contain any kind of “baseline radioactivity data for milk samples”.

It has stated that the revised report must explain the model used for radioactivity dispersion as well as the “impact of two hills near the site on atmospheric dispersion.”

The experts are surprised that the NPCIL collected only eight water samples and never mentioned the “season of collection”. The panel has asked the corporation to obtain “data for three seasons and submit its report.”

Concurring partly with environment concerns raised earlier, the committee wants the nuclear corporation to submit details of the location of the Near Surface Disposal Facilities (NSDF) for radioactive waste, besides “its impact on land and groundwater”, current status and a detailed study of “effect of historical tsunamis”, and a copy of the noobjection certificate (NOC) from Gujarat Irrigation Department “since the project is located in a command area”.

It wants proper documents of the marine impact assessment, study of the thermal dispersion of condenser cooling seawater discharges from the atomic plant, details of high and low tide lines, baseline environmental data of flora and fauna carried out by the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, and pre-operational radiological survey of the site by the Health Physics Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

The nuclear body has also been told to submit an action plan “for conservation of endangered species, proposed plan for the conservation of Schedule-I species observed within 10 km radius, prepared in consultation with the state wildlife department of Government of Gujarat under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972”, and a summary of all the representations received, along with the NPCIL’s “comments, clarifications and commitments, if any, along with budget provision for implementing the commitments made”.