Mithi Virdi n-project clears first hurdle
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In a setback to locals and activists opposing the Mithi Virdi nuclear power project, the Quality Council of India's (QCI) has told Engineers India Limited (EIL), the consultant for the Mithi Virdi nuclear power project, that it could go ahead for now with its exercise to assess the environmental impact of the proposed nuclear plant.
While opposing environment public hearings for the project, activists have argued that EIL is not qualified to make an environment impact assessment (EIA) since it does not have an accreditation by QCI to assess nuclear projects.
However, QCI has now informed EIL that its application for accreditation as qualified assessors of nuclear projects is "under active consideration" and that it may "continue the past practice in respect to nuclear power sector in conjunction with AERB/BARC/NPCIL".
A copy of the letter is with the Indian Express.
EIAs are the basis on which environment public hearings are conducted for industrial projects.
As of now, no consultant in India is qualified to assess nuclear power projects although 4800 Mega Watts (MW) of nuclear power capacity already exists in the country.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court this week further extended its stay on a memorandum issued by the Union Environment Ministry (MoEF) in June 2011 that specifies what kind of projects a QCI-accredited consultant is eligible to assess. As per the memorandum, EIL could assess projects in sectors QCI has accredited it for, which does not include nuclear power projects so far.
The HC order came on a special civil application filed by a group of more than seven consultants. Hearings on the matter are to continue.
Nine village sarpanchs in the area have also written a joint letter to Bhavnagar's district collector and regional officer of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) pointing out that EIL was not qualified to assess the project and so the public hearing was "illegal".
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