peoples march

from the people against injustice in the society

Posts Tagged ‘thermal power plant’

‘Power is needed, but at what cost?’

Posted by ajadhind on September 19, 2010

source – tehelka

With around 160 hydal power projects planned on Brahmaputra, there is a need for a holistic environment assesment

By Pradyut Bordoloi, Power Minister, Assam

Assam power minister, wears a worried look
Assam power minister, wears a worried look

As a power minister in the state of Assam – I probably have practically understood the meaning of a bipolar syndrome. On one hand I constantly need to mobilise power in the face of a demand growth explosion in my State – on the other hand I cannot turn blind eyes to the other side of development problems. How does one not get worried knowing that nobody is seriously studying the ramification of allowing reckless construction of river dams in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra water system. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has apparently identified as many as 160 assorted hydal power projects to be put up in the highlands of Arunachal Pradesh without carrying out a holistic study.

Hydel power projects like the one on Lower Subansiri River will enable us to get 600 megawatt power from 2012. At the moment, Assam has a deficit of 300 megawatt, which will grow every year. But when you look at the gamut of sanctioning projects in totality, you realise that there are several lacunas in the system of allotting power projects in a remote area.

Environment and Forest ministry carries out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for every single project. Usually a small group of experts would fly down from Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata to a location in the North East for EIA study. They stay for a night in a hotel in Gauhati, or in a nearest urban centre. Maybe the entity, which is going to promote this power project, would have a helicopter commissioned for such a study. They will fly around the zone; they will have an aerial view of the proposed site. Then they will get back to Delhi and they will file their EIA, which may not see all dimensions of an environmental impact. An individual EIA will cover only 20-25 km radius of that project site. But has anybody imagined what would be the cumulative effect of 160 hydel power projects in the region? Twenty years from now when 160 power projects in various capacities are ready, what will be the combined adverse effects on a downstream state like Assam?

This is one point that gets us worried. That’s why the government of Assam, despite my being a power minister, we have raised this issue again and again in different forums.

What we keep saying is that before the CEA (the Central Electricity Authority) allows anybody whether it is a government or a private entity to put up any hydal project in the highlands, a comprehensive EIA should be carried out to see dimensions of the cumulative effects in the entire area. Once you carry out the comprehensive study, you should identify which part of the highlands would be safe, where probably the downstream adverse affect will be minimal and where probably you can take some redressal measures.

Arunachal Pradesh government is apparently signing MoUs with all sorts of fly-by-night operators. Prospectors are pouring in, paying upfront value and sign MoUs. All these private players may not have any accountability; they do not care about the environmental affect in the downstream areas. It is very dangerous to allow reckless construction of river dams in the upper reaches of Brahmaputra, without having a roadmap determined by the appropriate authorities – be it the power ministry or central water commission or central electricity authority. And the problem is, when a power project is allowed, multiple agencies are involved. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. There is hardly any coordination. Everybody is doing his or her own job, but hardly any cohesive approach is taken to monitor in a holistic manner.

The Lower Subansiri Dam being built
Lower Subansiri project currently being developed by NHPC is on the fault line of the great earthquake of 1950

Because of our objection, an inter-ministerial group on this issue was formed. The group has recommended that a study on Brahmaputra basin be carried out. But unfortunately they are not doing anything. Arunachal Pradesh thinks if these projects come up, they would become the richest state in the country. They might not have any concern for the people of Assam who live in the downstream areas. If you ignore all these environment issues, it will bring catastrophe in the future.

At the same time I have seen there are certain groups who are totally against dams or any kind of developmental activities. All these groups have converged in Assam and are spreading lot of disinformation while the Central government puts everything in a cold storage. I think there should be a generated condition for an informed rational decision. We should not let anti-developmental people spread all sorts of misinformation and corrupt the minds of the people of Assam. We are not against river projects, but we have to know for sure that the places where the dams will be put up are safe and that adverse downstream effects can be properly addressed.

There is also concern about dams being built in highly seismic region around the foothills of Himalayas. In 1950, great earthquake of Assam actually changed the entire topography of the area. Brahmaputra changed its course; it’s been flooding the plains of Assam every year since then. Coincidently the very dam of Lower Subansiri project currently being developed by NHPC is located on the fault line of the great earthquake of 1950. God forbids if there is an earthquake of 8.5 Richter scale again, it would be a disaster – at least that is what the people of Assam shudder to think.

I’m not guided by any kind of biased views, but if somebody’s raising an issue that has to be addressed by appropriate authority. In today’s world there is technology to take care of structure even in earthquake prone areas. You have to tell the people of Assam that an appropriate technology is being used and the dam is going to be safe. That has to be told to people or else they are becoming victims of frightening misinformation. They are being constantly told that river dams are like huge ‘water bombs’. Unfortunately even the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad has changed its tune. Consistently, the party had demanded big dams in the state for long 25 years. With the elections approaching, they are now making a U Turn on dams on one up-manship contest against dams.

We have to create condition for debate and discussion on river dams. Let people be told that appropriate technology is being used and that Central Government is very sensitive to these issues – that we are in safe hands. Before that the question that will continue to haunt us in Assam is ‘hydal power at what cost’?

kunal@tehelka.com
(As told to Kunal Majumder)

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Bullets. Bodies. Land. Corporations.

Posted by ajadhind on July 26, 2010

KUNAL MAJUMDER IN SRIKAKULAM, ANDHRA PRADESH, tehelka

A big firm zeroes in on farm land for a thermal plant, and the villagers resist because it’s all they have

THIS IS what happens when land, wetland at that, becomes the heart of battle, in this case the seaside village of Sompeta, 120 km from Srikakulam town. The Hyderabad-based Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC) picks 1,100 acres of wetland here to build a thermal plant. The villagers object. On 14 July, they come to protest. Facing them are 200 NCC workers with blue ribbons and wielding lathis. Around 200 police personnel wait with batons, shields and helmets. The slogans begin: “Go back NCC”. Curses rent the air. The police respond with a lathicharge, and the blue ribbons join them. The villagers retreat, and return after two hours. Men and women, young and old, with bamboo sticks and tree branches. Teargas shells are fired, which are useless in the water-filled fields. The villagers surround the police and come charging, destroying tents, tearing banners and thrashing the constables who cannot run. In their rage, the villagers snatch at media cameras and pounce on reporters. Then, suddenly, there is gunfire. Sub-Inspectors aim their service revolvers at the villagers. Joga Rao, a 40-year-old farmer, falls, shot by Sub-Inspector K Ashoke Kumar. The villagers around Rao start yelling for help. A cameraperson from TV9, Anil Kumar, tries to put Rao on his motorcycle. Just then, someone hits Kumar on his head. Another villager, G Krishnamurthy, 54, is also shot. Later, at the mandal hospital, where the injured are being treated, a man suspected of being a police mole is beaten up. The crowd now starts targeting the media, whom they accuse of siding with the NCC. The madness continues into the night — an NCC office is burnt, and local politicians are attacked. The next day comes the news: environmental clearance to the NCC plant has been withdrawn.

Posted in ANDHRAPRADESH, IN NEWS, peoplesmarch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Battle won or lost?

Posted by ajadhind on July 24, 2010

recieved via mail

Ajay

Gulbarga

The land acquisition for thermal power plane has been succeeded by gulbarga administration in honnakiranagi, firozabad and nadisinnur.

Farmers who protested for months have agreed to give there lands. In a public hearing on july 23 to discuss the environmental consequences of the project compensation cheques has been given to 3 farmers. Farmers will get 9 lak/acre. One of the loser recieved a cheque worth 1 crore.

The increase in compensation, arrest of S.K.Kanta with regard to gulbarga pourakaarmika’s struggle, threat by the administration- all these factors has led to the withdrawal of protests by the farmers.

In the meeting farmers were more eager about the compensation, future of their children, jobs. Discussion about the environmental effects was least.

Who has won or lost this battle? Farmers? The state? Leaders? Or the hungry people of nation? Noone can deny the fact that electricity is one of the major requirement for the progress of the nation. Though we need electricity at a large amount there remains
some unanswered questions-

> Studies on environment has shown that thermal plant in raichur has increased the temperature of that area in addition to causing pollution by ash. The peak temperature in and around gulbarga at present is 45-47 in summer. What effects the new
thermal plant will have on this?

>Raichur power plant supplies more than 40% of power requirement of state, but it rarely works to its full strength. Technical problems, shortage of charcoal, wet charcoal are the reasons cited. What is the hurry to create new power plant when making raichur plant functionally effective will solve most of the power crisis?

> experts say that decreasing the loss of electricity during transmission by 20 to 30%
will solve the power deficiency. But no efforts in this regard.

> If we go around cities we can see a large amount of power being wasted just for advertisement boards. Until we are power sufficient can’t we ban using electricity for ad boards? I am sure that it can be used to lighten up thousands of villages.

> and finally – farmers got money, govt got lands, probably its officers will get commission, we got electricity. But what about food security for coming generation and
also for people of this generation who can’t afford the rising prices. Dal reaches 100rs per kg and we are happy acquiring thousands of acres where dal was grown as a major crop for thermal power plant.

LONG LIVE ” DEMOCRATIC” INDIA!!

Posted in IN NEWS, KARNATAKA | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

PROTEST AGAINST THERMAL POWER PLANT IN FERTILE LAND

Posted by ajadhind on April 26, 2010

RECIEVED VIA MAIL

IPC section 307,143,147,322,427,435,332,337,357,504……. These many sections are not against any antisocial elements. It is against farmers of Honnakiranagi, Firozabad, and Nadisinnur villages of Gulbarga District, Karnataka. Their Offence? They protested against land acquisition for Thermal Power plant.

Karnataka CM Yediyurappa oftenly says that “ his government will not occupy the fertile land for industries”. But it is only in his words; deeds show a different picture. Honnakiranagi, Firozabad, and Nadisinnur villages are located 22 -25 km from Gulbarga District closer to Gulbarga – Bangalore highway. More than 1500 acres of land has been marked for setup of 1000 – 1320 megawatt thermal power plant.

361 acres in Firozabad.

785 Acres in Honnakiranagi.

368 Acres in Nadisinnur.

All the land that has been marked is fertile where they cultivate jowar, red gram, sunflower. Fertility of this land has been certified by former Gulbarga DC Satyamurthy [ letter dated 03/09/2009; 296/08-09]. He states in that letter to Revenue department that the people are unwilling to vacate their land and more over the land is fertile; so the acquisition at this stage is a difficult task. He was transferred within a month and new DC Dr. Vishal took the charge who is a puppet for Government’s antiagrarian policies.

About 15000 people are dependent on this land. People of these villages are staging protests from long time. Karnataka raitha sangha, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, Karnataka sainya are supporting the cause. Former Karnataka Labour Mininster is leading from the front.

Kiranagi renamed Honnakiranagi

There is an interesting story behind renaming of this village. During Indo – China war then Karnataka CM Veerendra Patil visited this village for collection of funds. 101 tola [ one tola = 12g] of gold was arranged from villagers within a span of one hour and donated it to CM. Surprised by the prosperity of this village he called it as Honnakiranag[Honna = honnu = gold].

The prosperity is because of the fertile land in this area which has not betrayed them even when the rainfall was below average. As Annaveerappa, engineer turned agriculturist , says the market value of each acre is 6 – 7 lakh in interior and 10- 12 lakh near the mainroad and the government has fixed a mere amount of 2 lakh per acre. Does that mean that they are ready to leave their land for more compensation? “No” he says firmly “ their compensation is for the owners of the land. What about the life of agricultural labourers? What about the people whose occupation is dependent on agriculture?” Job for one is guaranteed…….. “Whats the use” Shivaling interrupted “ most of us are unskilled and untrained for factory work where computers and newer technologies plays a major role. What job we will get? Labour? If the construction project goes to an Andhra company even labaourers will come from there. Moreover only one will get a job whereas inground we have joint families where land though owned by one feeds many families.” The compensation given once, they say is a mere amount when compared to the yield that they get from the fertile lands.

208 owners of the land attended a meeting called by the DC out of which only 2 were willing to hand over their land, one of them is a lawyer [ Mashak Patel] and other his brother [ Rehman Patel] DC Vishal informed the agitators that he will send the report to higher authorities but on the next day itself sent a team to the villages to conduct a survey. There was a clash between the farmers and surveyors in the field. All the above said IPC’s were against the 5 arrested on 19/04/2010 – Arun Kumar Patil Of Karnataka rakshana vedike, Basavaraj Sunar, LAteef Saab Jaagerdar, Sharanu Konun, Shivu Julphi. But the police under the instructions by DC did not lodge any complaint against the surveyors even though they assaulted the farmers. Arrested farmers have started Satyagraha in jail premises.

On Feb 24th 2010 50 farmers accompanied by S. K. Kantha met CM in Bangalore where CM promised them that the fertile land will not be grabbed. Surprisingly villagers of Binajagi, Kanni, Tegnur have volunteerily asked the Government to acquire their land for the proposed project which is dry and less fertile when compared to the land marked. The only ‘probable’ disadvantage is these villages are located 12km from nearest railway line meant for transporting coal. The proposed land? It is 8km away!! Government is worrying about extra 4km when the proposed money for project is 7000 crores.

The power plant will have adverse effects on surrounding areas also has evident in and around the areas of Thermal Power plant in Raichur, the neighbouring district. Cultivation of surrounding villages will also get effected. Are they supporting the struggle? “ Some are. But people are not much aware of the things at present” Shantesh uttered who appears to be a fan of RSS but now losing his faith and hope after seeing RSS candidature’s administration. “ We are agitating here in front of DC’s office from past 15 days. Who is going to pay for our losses and expenses in all these 15 days?” he asked. “When solar energy is almost available for almost whole year in this part why can’t they implement solar projects which is environmental friendly?” the government which has to answer to these questions is silent hoping that the agitation will fade as days progresses.

They are firm in their decision. Owners of land have given the signed/ fingerprinted petition against land acquisition. “ The struggle is not just for us. It is even for the coming generations.” Shivaling told this reporter “ if they are keen for development let them start agrarian industries”

We are not going to give you handful of soil even if you give us kilo ofgold” this was what a lady villager said to DC

AJAY,

GULBARGA,

KARNATAKA.

Posted in IN NEWS, KARNATAKA | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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