VISAKHAPATNAM: The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Andhra Pradesh government are going ahead with land acquisition for the proposed nuclear power plant at Kovvada in Srikakulam district without the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)’s nod.
Responding to an RTI query, the AERB central public information officer Pankaj Tandon has clarified that the board hasn’t even received an application from the NPCIL requesting consent for the proposed plant. CPM State executive committee member Ch Narsinga Rao filed the application under the RTI Act on Aug 5 seeking information on whether the AERB had completed the evaluation process for site approval among other things.
Interestingly, it appears the NPCIL did not even submit relavant data to the AERB which is required to review and decide on the advisability of the proposed nuclear power plant.
“The State government is hell-bent on acquiring land from the villagers and start construction at the earliest. A Government Order has been issued for the acquisition of 2,436 acres in Ranasthalam mandal. As the NPCIL has not acquired the requisite permission from the AERB until August 19, the land acquisition by the government is illegal and in gross violation of existing laws,” said Narsinga Rao. He also pointed at the NPCIL and the State government’s “scant regard” for public hearings — it is mandatory to hold such hearings before projects of this kind are taken up.
Locals are already up in arms against the land acquistion moves but turning a blind eye to the public fury, the State government on Saturday issued an order imposing restrictions on construction/cultivation and other activities within 30 km of the proposed nuke plant site.
The government also constituted a Kovvada Project Local Committee comprising officials from the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board and the NPCIL. The orders were issued within a couple of weeks after the NPCIL officials approached government officials for “better coordination” over the land acquisition process in Ranasthalam mandal. The Struggle Committee against the Nuclear Power Plant’s president D Govinda Rao said Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, during his time in the Opposition, had opposed the power plant but took a U-turn after coming to power. Any attempt to construct the power plant will be obstructed, he warned. Various political and non-political organisations are planning a meeting later this month to decide their future course of action.
- Entire area within 1 km radius of the power plant site declared as an exclusion zone where no habitation will be allowed
- Area within 5 km radius fixed as sterilised zone. No new activity is permitted in this area.
- Area within 5-16 km called emergency zone and 16-30 km impact zone where hospitals, institutions, and industries will not be permitted; construction above G+1 floors cannot be taken up without the Kovvada Project Local Committee’s nod