Members of the Madras Naturalists’ Society (MNS) and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) on Friday appealed to the government to relocate the proposed 4,000-MW power plant and a captive port to an alternative location from Cheyyur in Kancheepuram district.
Ravi Chellam, vice-president, BNHS, said the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Expert Appraisal Committee claimed that “migratory birds are found to be negligible’’ in the lagoon area. However, a joint study by the MNS and BNHS revealed that the lagoon had a rich birdlife.
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
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.
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
The Rs 24,200-cr coastal project has run into trouble because of differing views on its threat to local ecology
The government’s attempt at reviving investor interest in its flagship Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPP) scheme after a four-year lull is headed south – quite literally. One of the two such newly-announced projects in Cheyyur village, 96 kilometre south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, has been engulfed in a controversy spanning economic, social and ecological domains. With the National Green Tribunal last month restraining the authorities from awarding the Rs 24,200 crore project, the future hints at a long-drawn battle between the protesting local inhabitants and the project proponent, Power Finance Corporation (PFC), which arranges clearances before such projects are bid out to companies.
A resident of Panaiyur Periakuppam in Kancheepuram has moved the National Green Tribunal here challenging the Environment Clearance (EC) awarded recently to the proposed 4,000 Megawatt Ultra Mega Power Project in Cheyyur belonging to the Power Finance Corporation by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).