Tokyo: Japan partially lifted an evacuation order in one of the two hometowns of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday for the first time since the 2011 disaster. Decontamination efforts have lowered radiation levels significantly in the area about 7 kilometers (4 miles) southwest of the plant where three reactors had meltdowns due to the damage caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The action allows people to return to about 40 percent of Okuma. The other hometown, Futaba, remains off-limits, as are several other towns nearby. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USMany former residents are reluctant to return as the complicated process to safely decommission the plant continues. Opponents of lifting the evacuation orders in long-abandoned communities say the government is promoting residents’ return to showcase safety ahead of the Tokyo Olympics next summer. The government has pushed for an aggressive decontamination program by removing topsoil, chopping trees and washing down houses and roads in contaminated areas, though experts say the effort only caused the contamination to move from one place to another, creating massive amounts of radioactive waste and the need for its long-term storage. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe meltdowns at three of Fukushima Dai-ichi’s six reactors caused massive radiation leaks that contaminated the plant’s surroundings, forcing at its peak some 160,000 people to evacuate their homes for areas elsewhere in Fukushima or outside the prefecture. Evacuation orders in most of the initial no-go zones have been lifted, but restrictions are still in place in several towns closest to the plant and to its northwest, which were contaminated by radioactive plumes from the plant soon after its meltdowns. More than 40,000 people were still unable to return home as of March, including Okuma’s population of 10,000. Town officials say the lifting of the evacuation order in the two districts would encourage the area’s recovery. “We are finally standing on a starting line of reconstruction,” Okuma mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe told reporters.