Jairam Ramesh warns of notice; shadow over other power projects

The firing incident on Monday in at Kakarapalli village in Srikakulam mandal, where two agitators died and several others injured, protesting against the establishment of 2,640-MW thermal power plant by East Coast Energy rocked the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, with members cutting across political parties, demanding its cancellation.

The issue also echoed in Parliament, wherein the Environment Minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh, threatened to slap another show-cause notice on the company promoters, now facing farmers' agitation against its coming up in the current site.

Mr Ramesh, in response to Rajya Sabha members' concern today over the killing of two farmers, assured that “if there was any violence, there would not be any hesitation to issue another show-cause notice to stop work on this project,” agencies reported.

In fact, the project received environmental clearance after considerable deliberations and a team visiting the site due to opposition from the local people, including fishermen, who believe that the ecologically sensitive area would be impacted.

AP minster's response

Following repeated adjournments of the House with members moving an adjournment motion and demanding a statement on the incident, the State Home Minister, Ms P. Sabitha Reddy, sought to give a detailed reply which was disrupted by members. While maintaining that the situation was unfortunate, she said that the situation turned violent when a crowd of about 600 to 700 people started pelting stones and wielded sticks. This forced police to fire 34 plastic pellets and 17 rubber bullets.

Company response

Reacting to the development, a company spokesperson told Business Line, “We are pained at the unfortunate incidents. The company is committed to the sustainable development and is working with the State Government to restore normalcy.”

The company official maintained that nearly Rs 1,500 crore has been spent on the project so far with about 1,800 engineers, technicians and workers engaged on the site. It has complied with all suggestions of the Ministry, including the right to use only 1,317 acres of the 1,960 acres.

Other projects

The incident casts a shadow on the prospects of other projects also coming up in the area. Several projects have been proposed in the area, which includes a 10,000-MW nuclear power plant by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) at Kovvada about 25 km from Srikakulam.

The locals in the district have been protesting against the setting up of power projects in the district maintaining that it would imbalance the ecologically sensitive coastal region, which is rich in mangroves and known for bird sanctuaries.

Another 1320-MW thermal power project of NCC Ltd, (Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd) at Sompeta in the Srikakulam district of the State had to be withdrawn following violent incidents by the locals protestors leading to firing. This project was later rejected by the Ministry of Environment.

Police have indicated at involvement of ‘outsiders' in the incident.

Our New Delhi Bureau reports:

Power Project work suspended

The Environment Ministry on Tuesday has ordered the suspension of construction work at the East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd’s power plant in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. The company has been asked to submit a report by March 6 on compliance of conditions for environmental clearance.

The Ministry, in its order, said that ongoing construction work related to the project should be “suspended forthwith”.

It said the 2,640 MW super critical coal plant was being constructed on wetland and cited recommendations of the Expert Appraisal Committee as a reason for order to suspend work.

Further, the Ministry said the case will be heard on March 7 when the representatives of the company should be present.

(This article was published on March 1, 2011)
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