MUMBAI, April 14 (UPI) -- Opposition to India's proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant is growing amid Japan's nuclear crisis.
Long before the crippling of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, the Jaitapur project faced opposition particularly from locals, who fear environmental degradation of Konkan, a rugged section of the western coastline of India.
In a recent open letter, a group of 50 Indian scientists, academics and activists wrote, "The Japanese nuclear crisis is a wakeup call for India," calling for a moratorium on new nuclear projects in the country, The New York Times reports.
The first phase of Jaitapur, comprised of two reactors, is scheduled to be commissioned by 2018-19, with phase 2 ready by 2021-22 and the final phase by 2025-26. Once completed, the six-reactor project would more than double the country's current nuclear power capacity of 4,700 megawatts.
French company Areva is providing a new generation of reactors known as European Pressurized Water for the project, but some critics say such reactors don't have a proven track record.
"In view of the vast nuclear devastation we are observing in Japan, I would strongly urge the government not to proceed with the Jaitapur project with purchase of EPRs from France or any other import of nuclear reactors," the Times quoted a former Indian nuclear safety official, Adinarayan Gopalakrishnan, as saying.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month said he had ordered a thorough review of the country's nuclear plants, noting Japan's nuclear crisis "should make us revisit strategies for nuclear safety, learning lessons from these experiences."
Still, the government maintains its commitment to nuclear power, aiming for one-fourth of the country's electricity to come from nuclear power by 2050.
India now gets about 3 percent of its electricity from 20 fairly small nuclear reactors operating in the country. But to meet India's escalating energy needs, another five reactors are being built, with 39 more planned.
Meanwhile, India's nuclear plant operator, Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd., said Wednesday the country's nuclear plants may soon get additional safety measures that address preparedness for an extended power-loss scenario such as was witnessed at Fukushima, Press Trust of India reports.
The measures are based on the recommendations of four separate task forces, which included introducing new technologies to ensure initiation of automatic reactor shutdown on sensing seismic activity and setting up of an advance tsunami alert mechanism at India's Tarapur Atomic Power Station, which houses two boiling water reactors similar to Fukushima's.