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.”