After Land Bill, BJP and Shiv Sena pitted against each other on Jaitapur project

Ruling partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena are now pitted against each other on the development of the 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra. 

BJP has been supporting the project development, saying nuclear power is clean power. But the Shiv Sena has stepped up its opposition against the project, saying the Centre can shift the “monstrous” project to Gujarat as it will have adverse impact on environment and people residing in its vicinity. 

Shiv Sena has organised a day long agitation slated for March 16 at the Jaitapur nuclear power project site in Ratnagiri district.

Jaitapur project is being developed by state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). French major AREVA will initially supply two evolutionary pressurised reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MW each and subsequently another four of the same capacity. 

Sena’s move comes close on the heels of its decision to abstain from voting on the Land Acquisition Bill in the Lok Sabha. 

“We are totally opposed to the Jaitapur project. For a few megawatts of power, you cannot inconvenience people of the state. It will destroy the entire Konkan region. If BJP feels it is so good and precious, they can take it to Gujarat,” Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said during his meeting with party ministers and legislators from Maharashtra on Monday.

Thackeray went on to add that the project cost and the per unit tariff of the Jaitapur project is still not known. However, he said if the project is developed in Gujarat or elsewhere in the country, Maharashtra can purchase the quantum of power that the state requires.

State power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule told Business Standard, “The Jaitapur project is developed by NPCIL, which is a central government undertaking.” However, another BJP minister, who did not want to be named, said the party supports development of Jaitapur project in Maharashtra. He cited the statement made by union minister of state Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that adequate safety and security applications are being incorporated in the Jaitapur project. There will be a mechanism in place for surveillance and monitoring  radioactivity, he said.

Party MP Kirit Somaiya, who had raised questions in this regard in the Lok Sabha, said that the minister has assured that the Jaitapur project is being established with all safety concerns in mind.

The Jaitapur power project director S Singharoy said at present various pre-project activities are going on at the project site. Besides, NPCIL and AREVA are currently engaged in talks to reach a techno-commercial agreement.