Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today told the Assembly the proposal to set up a nuclear power plant in Bhavnagar district has been scrapped owing to a movement by panic-stricken locals following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.
He was speaking during a debate on the issue during Question Hour of the Assembly which is having its budget session.
The project was proposed to be set up at Mithivirdi village in Bhavnagar district, said Energy Minister Saurabh Patel.
Taking part in the debate, Rupani said though the state government had signed an MoU with Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) in 2007, the project was eventually scrapped by the PSU after villagers raised apprehensions about their safety in the wake of radioactive “leak” from the Fukushima nuclear plant following a tsunami.
Rupani was replying to a question by Imran Khedawala (Congress) about the status of the proposed 6,000 MW nuclear power plant, for which the state had signed agreements with NPCIL in 2007 during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.
“This project has been scrapped permanently by NPCIL. During the UPA rule, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had signed a nuclear deal with the USA. After that, a total of six nuclear plants were planned across the country and this plant in Bhavnagar was one of them,” he said.
“However, locals turned against this project after tsunami waves caused (radioactive) leak in Japan (in 2011).
After that incident, panicked locals here started a movement against the project, as they felt that the project would prove dangerous for them. As the movement and negative sentiment gained momentum, the project was scrapped,” he said.
Patel said some locals were not ready to give land for the project.
“NPCIL officials tried their best to convince locals, but they are not ready to give their land for the project. In addition, some environmentalists and local leaders such as (former BJP MLA) Kanubhai Kalsariya instigated villagers against the project. Some people did this for political gains,” said Patel.
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani alleged that most of the MoUs in energy sector remained only “on paper” as “neither public sector nor private sector firms have set up their power plants in Gujarat even after signing MoUs in Vibrant Summits several years back”.
He cited some cases wherein major corporate houses have not set up their gas or coal-based power plants in Gujarat despite signing MoUs in this regard in Vibrant Summits held in 2007 and 2009.
In his response, Patel said the main reason for this is non-availability of cheap fuel such as coal and gas.