Shut down Maharashtra nuclear plants to avert mega-disaster: Student’s PIL

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Mumbai, March 6 (IANS) Expressing apprehensions of a potential mega-disaster in view of recurring earthquakes in Maharashtra’s Palghar, a Mumbai student on Wednesday moved the Bombay High Court, demanding a safety review and shutting down of all the nuclear facilities at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Tarapur.

Taaha Nizam, who studies engineering at the BITS, Goa, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the court, claiming that the nuclear facilities at BARC and Tarapur could be at serious risk as there have been several low- and medium-intensity earthquakes in Palghar.

The BARC complex is located at Tarapur, barely 25 km from Palghar, where over a dozen earthquakes have been reported in the past few months, he said.

He said that Palghar-based scientist Mahesh Yashraj, who has invented Earthquake Resistant Structure Technology, had drawn the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BARC and other central and state agencies to a potential disaster waiting to happen.

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“In fact, barely 15 days after his letter dated October 25, 2018, the series of earthquakes have started rocking Palghar. So far, there has been no response from anybody in this serious matter,” the petitioner’s lawyer, Tanveer Nizam told IANS.

In view of the huge populations in Palghar, Thane, and Mumbai districts and adjoining areas, the PIL has sought an urgent review of the safety and related aspects at BARC, as global experts have warned of many more high-intensity earthquakes in the near future.

The PIL adds that in 2018 alone, the number of earthquakes recorded worldwide increased from around 38,000 in January to over 90,000 in December, and these are expected to further go up in view of certain ongoing geographical changes and natural phenomena.

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The petitioner contended that the impact of the March 11, 2011 Fukushima and the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disasters was felt in an area of over 250 kms, affecting thousands besides creating other long-term health and environmental complications.

“It must be noted that Mumbai is barely 70 kms from BARC and any nuclear disaster here could hit places as far as Pune, besides other big and small cities in the vicinity,” Nizam said.

The PIL has demanded that in view of a major geological fault in the Mumbai-Thane Creek area, and the disastrous September 30, 1993 Latur earthquake, the National Disaster Management Authority had classified the areas of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nashik and Pune, besides Nagpur as ‘Seismic Zone III’.

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Considering the growing number and higher intensity of earthquakes, the PIL has sought that these areas should be re-classified at Seismic Zone Vi-VII category to ensure better construction practices and prevent or minimize loss of lives and properties.

The PIL is expected to come up shortly for hearing, said Nizam.

–IANS

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