Impudent gesture

IT is now clear that concern for environment is last on the agenda of the Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC). Brushing aside the advice of three successive expert committees, NFC has carried on with its expansion plans. A committee of experts presented an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on NFC's expansion plans to the ministry of environment and forests on October 26.

The committee of experts was asked to look into the environmental aspects of the proposed nuclear power and nuclear fuel complexes and recommend clearance or rejection of the project. It rejected for the third time, the report prepared by the Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants (India) Limited (MICON), for a new uranium oxide fuel plant, a zircaloy fabrication unit and a uranium fuel assembly plant in Hyderabad. The groundwater in the area is contaminated with nitrates but the MICON report does not mention the extent of nitrate contamination. Apparently, the committee was expected to give a green signal for a project which had already begun.