”The true impact of the project of this scale will never be known unless one decides to do a comprehensive bio-diversity assessment. The thermal discharge of this scale is bound to cause an eco-system shift in a large area. Even a 0.5 degree of continous thermal stress will lead to mortality of marine species. And here we are talking about a 5 degree shift,” said Deepak Apte, marine biologist and deputy director of Bombay Natural History said.
Incidentally, environment clearance for Jaitapur project was given in just 80 days from the time final environment impact assessment report was submitted by Nuclear Power Corporation. An agreement between Areva and NCPIL is expected to be signed during French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s visit to India next month.
While approving the project, MoEF has prescribed 35 stringent conditions and safeguards, of which 23 specific conditions would have to be met within a year’s time. These include the preparation of a comprehensive biodiversity conservation plan, with BNHS and state forest department, to maintain health of 150 hectares of mangroves in the area.
Stressing the need for cleaner technology, Ramesh said nuclear energy was a cleaner option compared to coal.
”From the environment point of view, a nuclear project is land-intensive and greener. Today 38% of India’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the electricity generation sector. If we wish to maintain a GDP growth rate of 9% every year, then our power sector needs to grow at 7% annually,” he said.