'Pause a little' on Jaitapur, says Ramesh after Japan crisis

Amid growing concerns over the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday said the country should ''pause a little'' to look at the ''state of preparedness'' of the atomic plants to deal with emergencies like tsunami and earthquake.

Ramesh however was quick to clarify that he was not making a case for the country to abandon nuclear power. ''It is not an abandon button. It is a time for calm and cool thinking,'' Ramesh said.

Terming as ''horrendous'' what happened to Japan's nuclear plants in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and the resultant tsunami on 11 March, Ramesh said, ''We have to draw the appropriate lesson.''

''I think we have to pause a little, we have to look at the safety system. We have to look at our state of preparedness for emergencies like tsunamis and so on,'' Ramesh said on the sidelines of the ''India Today Conclave 2011'' in New Delhi. ''We have to do a thorough independent professional audit of our systems.''

His comments came amid concerns by environmentalists over safety of the planned Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra in case of events similar to Japan occurring.

In fact earlier this week, Ramesh told a television channel, ''I don't recall if a tsunami was factored into the environment clearance process (for Jaitapur).'' Just a day earlier, Ramesh had said that additional safety features would be considered for the plant.