New Delhi, Apr 20 : Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has accused Shiv Sena of "politicising" the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant issue and frequently changing its stand on him on environmental issues.
"Shiv Sena has a long track record of politicising all issues. This is the same Shiv Sena, which had vowed to throw the Enron Project into the Arabian Sea in 1993, if I recall right. But when they came to power in 1995, they went out of their way to give approval," the Minister said reacting to a question on Shiv Sena's allegations against him.
Ramesh said Sena had lauded him for his stand on Navi Mumbai airport and Lavasa housing project near Pune and "made me a hero" but now the party has "made a khalnayak" in the Jaitapur episode.
"Consistency does not seem to be a virtue in Shiv Sena", he said.
The Minister said that looking into the environmental aspects of the project is the only mandate of his Ministry and maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the state government.
Taking a position with the local people in coastal Ratnagiri district who are opposing the project, Shiv Sena had termed as a "mockery" Ramesh's statement that there would be no rethink on Jaitapur nuclear power project.
The Minister wondered what made Shiv Sena, who "gave approval in unholy haste to the Enron Project", to stand against the Jaitapur Project.
A day after a protester was killed in police firing in Jaitapur, Ramesh said what happened in Jaitapur is "most depressing" and it caused him "great anguish."
"What happened in Jaitapur is deeply anguishing. I have been pained by what has happened and I hope that we can go back to discussing these issues in a peaceful way," the Minister said.
"There is a form of democratic protest, which we must all accept and acknowledge. But firing and people dying is unacceptable in democracy," he said.
"The situation has to be brought under control by the state government. The Ministry of Environment and Forest does not enter into the picture," Ramesh said.
Maintaining that it is the duty of the state government and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to improve the public confidence and trust and address the compensation issues, he said "you cannot use environmental clearance as a shoulder to fight all your battles."
"So it is unfair to blame the Ministry of Environment and Forests," he said.
The Minister said the clearance for the Jaitapur project was given on November last year and the Ministry has "nothing to do with" land acquisition, compensation, economics of nuclear power and nuclear safety.
"Those were not issues that the MoEF is either competent to deal with or it is mandated to deal with. One should understand this fact," he said.
Ramesh said he was surprised at the Shiv Sena's accusations against him and alleged that consistency did not seem to be a virtue in the party.
Referring to the Sena mouthpiece Saamna's editorial a couple of months ago in which he was praised for his position on Navi Mumbai Airport, Adarsh Housing Society and Lavasa Hill City Project, Ramesh said, "Consistency does not seem to be a virtue in Shiv Sena."
"One day they think that I am khalnayak and other time they think that I am a hero," he said.
Rejecting the demand for withdrawal of environmental clearance given to Jaitapur project, the Minister said, "There are genuine issues of public concern that have to addressed."
"I have always maintained this. The public outreach programme of NPCIL (and) state government... whatever needs to be done to improve the public confidence and trust particularly after what is happened in Japan needs to be addressed," the Minister said.
"If compensation has to be increased, the state government and NPCIL have to decide," he said.
"There are differences of opinion and it is incumbent upon the Government to address these public issues and public concerns, and even if it takes a few months more, we should address those issues," he said. PTI