4 April, 2014 — The 4000 MW Cheyyur coal power project has high potential to irreversibly damage the Odiyur Lagoon, destabilise fisheries and increase the vulnerability of the area to flooding events, according to a scientific study titled “Evaluation of the Waterbirds of Odiyur Lagoon – a Wetland near the proposed Cheyyur Power Plant” by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Madras Naturalists’ Society (MNS). Releasing the report at a Press Conference today, Dr. Ravi Chellam, Vice President and Member of the Governing Council of the Bombay Natural History Society, said the study makes a strong case for relocating the power plant and captive port to an alternative location that is in compliance with the siting guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests. He urged the State and Central Governments to notify the Lagoon and its catchment as an Ecologically Sensitive Area under the Environment Protection Act and regulate activities to ensure the protection of local biodiversity, local livelihoods and the region’s hydrological functions. Continue reading
A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking to declare that the proceedings for identification of land and land acquisition for the 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Project and the captive port at Cheyyur in Kancheepuram district as illegal.
The petitioner, K.Saravanan of Ururkuppam, Besantnagar here, a fisherman, said the Tamil Nadu Government was currently acquiring lands for the power project and the captive port at Cheyyur.
The lands which were being acquired were not the ones that were selected for the project.
In the case of the captive port, land acquisition was being done at a site that was expressly rejected in favour of a different location that was found more suitable. As regards the power plant, lands in a survey numbers that were not even part of the site stated to be required were being acquired. Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/plea-to-declare-land-acquisition-for-power-project-as-illegal/article5701116.ece
CHENNAI: Citing “crippling irregularities” and “fraudulent methods” adopted for acquiring lands for a 4,000MW coal-fired ultra-mega thermal power plant at Cheyyur near Chennai, a PIL filed in the Madras high court has sought a stay on acquisition of land in seven villages on East Coast Road.
The first bench comprising acting Chief Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan on Monday issued notices to state and central governments, besides the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board and the Central Electricity Authority.
According to the PIL, the Kancheepuram district administration has been acquiring lands in Cheyyur, Vedal, Chittarkadu, Gangadevankuppam, Vilangadu, Kokkaranthangal and Panaiyur villages for the power plant and a captive port, though most of these lands lay outside the project area. The Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Limited, a subsidiary of the Power Finance Corporation, is the promoter of the plant.
While the coal-fired thermal plant and ash dyke are to come up in Cheyyur, a captive port to receive the imported coal for the power plant is to be set up in Panaiyur, the PIL said, adding, “The identification of the sites is fraught with illegalities.”
The PIL, filed by a fishing community member, K Saravanan, said these lands were not the ones originally identified for the project, and that at present land acquisition was being carried out at a site that was rejected in favour of a different location.
No committee either visited the spot for identification of the two sites, or submitted a feasibility report, he said, adding, “The clearance for the captive port as well as the power plant is under challenge before the National Green Tribunal (southern bench)”.
Noting that he was not against the power project in Tamil Nadu, Saravanan said coal-fired thermal power plants are ‘red’ category industries because of their inherently polluting nature.
Also, the captive port for the project is now proposed to be located in a site rejected by the site selection teams of the state government. Instead of Panaiyur, the team had selected Tharuthazhalaiyur to locate the port, he said.
The area between the villages which is being acquired for the captive port is covered with sand dunes and is eco-sensitive, the PIL said, adding, “This beachfront is used perennially for a range of fishing-related activities. Locating a port and a 3-lakh tonne coal storage yard at this location would harm the health of local communities, disrupt livelihoods and disturb the coastal ecology.”
The Madras HC today ordered issue of notices to the Union Environment and Forests Ministry, Tamil Nadu’s Energy Department secretary and special thasildar of Ultra Mega Power Project in Kancheepuram on a plea seeking direction to withdraw proceedings for land acquisition for the 4000 MW project in Cheyyur and adjoining villages.
The petitioner, K Saravanan, also challenged acquiring of lands for a Captive Port in Cheyyur, Kancheepuram district.
He contended that clearance given for the Captive Port and UMPP were challenged before the National Green Tribunal, South Zone, on ecological grounds.
NGT had also issued interim orders not to finalise the award for bidders for the establishment of the port, he submitted.
The lands for the proposed the power plant was not visited by the Site Selection Team of the government, the petitioner submitted.
The First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Sathish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan, directed the authorities to file their reply within two weeks.
More than 200 farmers from Vedal in Cheyyur taluka attended a hearing called for by the District Collector of Kanchipuram on 28 January, and unanimously conveyed their decision against land acquisition of their farmlands for setting up the 4000MW power plant. A similar meeting was held at 3 p.m. for farmers from Chittarkadu, Palaiyur and Thaneer Panthal.
Speaking to cheyyur.wordpress.com over phone, Vedal farmer Mani Mudaliar said the administration was unprepared to answer any of the questions raised by the farmers. Farmers pointed out that the lands originally identified by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for locating the plant did not have any agricultural lands. They alleged fraud in the manner in which the site has been changed to encompass fertile agricultural lands. Highlighting that the company’s environmental clearance itself states that more than 82 percent of the lands to be acquired for the power plant and toxic ash dump are private agricultural lands, the farmers said that the choice of site vitiates the Environment Ministry’s siting guidelines for coal-fired thermal power plants. The original site identified by a site selection team of the CEA pursuant to a visit in October 2006 comprised non-agricultural and non-forest lands spread over Cheyyur and Mudaliarkuppam villages. The current site is located in Vedal, Gangadevanuppam, Chittarkadu and Palaiyur village and is predominantly agricultural, and includes more than 100 acres of waterbodies, and about 40 acres of Reserve Forests.
The farmers also objected that the Government had violated due process by notifying compensation orders without even sending the “award copy” to individual land owners. Some pointed out that the project had been built on a bed of lies including statements to statutory authorities about the absence of waterbodies and migratory birds.
The District Collector said that the matter is in the Madras High Court and several other fora, and that the Government will now await the court order on the matter.
For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman: 9444082401. Visit:cheyyur.wordpress.com
The following is an earlier article and pertains to the MARG Swarnabhoomi project in Cheyyur and not the power plant. However, it is suspected that the push for the power plant and the land acquisition, including of additional land may all be related to a concerted real estate push in the region.
Glaring irregularities in 2 SEZ properties
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has, in its latest report, brought to light glaring irregularities in land deals involving SEZ properties in Chengalpattu and Cheyyur in Kancheepuram district.
In both SEZ properties, the CAG audit found that vacant land or land with constructed residential units were “sold” to private individuals under the guise of “lease” thereby helping the developers pocket an undue gain in the form of exemption of stamp duty and registration fees to the tune of Rs. 8.68 crores apart from other benefits such as exemption of VAT, CENVAT, Service Tax, Customs Duty and Income tax.
The CAG report for the year ending March 2012 which was tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday has also recommended to the government to take steps to set right the irregularities that resulted in violation of SEZ rules and to recover the undue benefits passed on to developers/co-developers of these properties.
3 January, 2014
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.