M A I N   N E W S

Green, health concerns over Fatehabad N-plant
Deepender Deswal
Tribune News Service

PM to lay stone on Jan 13
PM Manmohan Singh will lay the foundation stone of Haryana’s first nuclear power project at Gorakhpur in Fatehabad on January 13.

Gorakhpur (Fatehabad), January 6
About an hour's drive from the industrial city of Hisar, a village with rich fertile land spread across hundreds of acres is awaiting a rebirth. Ask anyone in Gorakhpur about their future, most will reply with a hint of what is predestined: "parmanu yug (nuclear age) has come."

Yet there are doubters with concerns as serious as the future of the crops and the water the village drinks when the 4X700 MW nuclear plant comes up. The plant has already got the conditional environmental go-ahead from the Centre.

Anti-plant activists call it a 'water guzzler'. They argue that it's legally untenable to divert water meant for hydel generation and irrigation under the Bhakra Water Sharing Agreement 1959 between Punjab and Rajasthan. Haryana being the successor state of Punjab is legally bound by this agreement. This means Bhakra water can only be used for irrigation and generation of hydel power only.

The state government has made it clear: nuclear energy is badly needed, and that safety and environmental concerns have been addressed.

Activists comprising Gen VK Singh (Retd), MG Devasahayam, who had served as SDM in Fatehabad, and Kumar Sundaram associated with the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) say that the water allocation to the plant will deprive around 99,000 acres of land of the irrigation facility.

Around 320 cusecs of water will be diverted to the nuclear plant. The activists say diverting this huge quantity of water for a nuclear plant is illegal, as it violates Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

MECON Limited, Ranchi, in its environment impact assessment (EIA) report to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has spelled out the project's water requirement. MECON's report says the water consumption at the project is 1.250 million litres per day (MLD). The report came after the Ministry of Environment and Forest prescribed the terms of references (ToR) for undertaking detailed EIA for the proposal to set up the atomic power project.

The activists counter the official claim that the water will only be used for cooling the plant. They say residual water after cooling the reactor will have radiation. So, it will be unfit for irrigation and drinking water downstream. In a joint statement, they have raised 12 objections. The Haryana Irrigation Department has, however, dismissed the objections as unfounded.

The department, in a letter to the Managing Director of the Haryana Power Generation Corporation, said it had confirmed availability of 400-cusec water for the nuclear power project in Kumharia (an adjoining village where the site was proposed earlier). "As per the fresh requirement of 320 cusecs for consumptive use for the plant, canal water can be made available from the Bhakra mainline through Fetahabad branch," the letter said.

Superintending Engineer, Bhakra Water Services II, Hisar division, SS Chhikara says as per the revised estimate, the irrigation department would supply only 180 cusecs to the plant instead of 320 cusecs mentioned in the agreement. "The water would not be diverted from the Fatehabad branch as there is a proposal to dig a separate 45-50-km channel from Baliyala head -- which divides Bhakra main line coming from Bhakra dam into smaller branches -- to channel water to the plant".





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