3 January, 2014
Revenue officials threatened land-owners in Vilambur, Cheyyur taluk, with police action for blocking unidentified Hindi-speaking surveyors from entering their farms and orchards with survey equipment. The surveyors have no documents from the Government stating the purpose of the survey or conveying authority for such activities. A team comprising VAO H. Sridhar, Talayari A. Marimuthu and Tahsildar Arumugam threatened to bring the police to facilitate the illegal survey. This development further increases the financial risks and uncertainty over the entire project, and may well render the entire project unviable.Vilambur villagers were objecting to the survey stating that they needed to know all the details regarding the reasons for which the survey was being conducted. In November, a similar attempt by a few Hindi-speaking surveyors was foiled. At that time, the Village Administrative Officer had claimed that he had no idea about land acquisition in Vilambur, and expressed ignorance about the surveyors and their intent. It was only at this time that Vilambur villagers learnt from a Chennai NGO that a stormwater drain, a coal conveyor belt and water intake and effluent pipelines for the 4000MW Cheyyur coal power plant were to pass through their orchards, farm lands and vegetable patches.
Separate Environmental Clearances for the port and the power plant had been obtained after two separate public hearings for the two projects were held. However, no public hearing was held, no EIA prepared and no Environmental Clearance has been obtained for the coal conveyor belt, stormwater drain and water intake/outfall pipelines. As the recent land survey attempts have shown, even the land has not been surveyed.
Similarly, while lands for the power plant and port are being acquired under the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Lands for Industrial Purposes Act, 1997, 43 acres of lands for the coal conveyor belt, the stormwater drain and the water pipelines are not being acquired under this Act. According to project documents, acquisition of lands for these infrastructure will be left to the private company that wins the bid to set up and operate the power plant. As per law, no such survey can take place without the consent of the land owner unless formal acquisition notice is issued under a relevant land acquisition statute, and surveyors authorised to conduct such survey. No such acquisition notice has been issued to Vilambur villagers, and no consent sought.
For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401