The chief minister of India’s Maharashtra state, Devendra Fadnavis, said on Sunday that a planned 9.9 GW nuclear power project in the port of Jaitapur will go ahead despite ongoing protests.

“The previous government had started this project and brought it to a certain level. It is now at a stage where one cannot go back. You cannot indulge in national waste,” Fadnavis was quoted as saying. “This project will be completed at any cost now.”

The project is being built by France’s Areva and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). When completed, it will be the world’s largest nuclear power installation. It is planned to feature six 1650 MW European pressurized reactors and its estimated cost is around $16bn.

Recent protest by the regional Shiv Sena party, which co-governs Maharashtra with Fadnavis’s ruling BJP, has failed to sway the latter party. “The BJP feels that India requires nuclear power,” Fadnavis said, “and when the PM [Prime Minister] does something, he does it for the country’s benefit.”  

The initial contract for the project was signed between then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010. On a visit to Paris in April of this year, India’s new PM Narendra Modi signed an agreement to fast-track the project, which has suffered from significant delays due to Indian and French differences over the power price.  

At the time, a senior Shiv Sena MP, Sanjay Raut, was quoted as saying: “We are not against nuclear power. Even we are for it, but not at the cost of human lives. There is a possibility of damage to the environment, including air and water. … Let the PM sign the agreement with the French government, but we will continue to oppose the project.”