Govt should halt setting up of Jaitapur n-plant: CPI-M

New Delhi: The CPI(M) on Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to the setting up of a nuclear power project in Jaitapur and the environment clearance given to it, saying the crisis in nuclear reactors in Japan following the tsunami warranted a re-examination of the project.

The party also claimed that the imported European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) from French company `Areva` have not been commissioned anywhere in the world and questions are being raised about the reliability and safety of these "more expensive" new reactors.

"Given the crisis which has developed in some of the nuclear power reactors in Japan after the tsunami and the threat of a meltdown, it is imperative that the environmental clearance given to the project be withdrawn. The issue should be reexamined," party Politburo said in a statement.

The party Polit Bureau calls for an "immediate halt to the Jaitapur nuclear power project, it said adding the locals have been "totally opposed" to the location of the plant and refused to accept the forcible acquisition of their lands.

"Both in France and Finland, the construction of these reactors (EPR) have run into various difficulties. The justifications being given about the EPR project at Jaitapur by the concerned authorities cannot be accepted. The safety and interests of the people of Jaitapur and the country should be paramount," the party said.

Earlier this month, an NGO `Coalition of Nuclear Disarmament and Peace` (CNDP) has termed the plant a "bad bargain" and alleged that the government was purchasing six "untested" EPRs, a technology about which regulators in Britain and US has raised around 3,000 safety issues.

They claimed that the purchase was a bid help the French company Areva, which "is in deep trouble" financially as it had sought USD four billion in a short-term bailout from French taxpayers.

The report prepared by CNDP alleged the government was promoting an "exorbitantly expensive, inappropriate and extremely hazardous project" based on French company Areva`s EPR, which is "untested anywhere and which has not been cleared by the nuclear regulatory authority of any country, including France".

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, addressing a rally at Jaitapur earlier, had dubbed as "100 per cent false" the concerns voiced by those opposed to the nuclear power project. Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee had said that the EPRs were safe reactors.