Members from both ruling and Opposition parties oppose project.
Political parties and the green lobby have stepped up opposition to the 1,350-Mw thermal power project by Indiabulls in Amravati district. They have alleged the government’s decision to allocate 87.68 million cubic metres of water would further increase irrigation backlog in the region and adversely impact the environment.
Amravati is the home district of President Pratibha Patil. Interestingly, cutting across political lines, members from both the ruling and Opposition parties in the state legislature criticised the government’s insistence on the project.
This is the second power project after the 10,000 Mw nuclear power project in coastal Ratnagiri district face such stiff opposition. The company has indicated that the first phase of 270 Mw would be commissioned by September 2012, while the entire project would be operational by March 2013. The company has paid Rs 100 crore to the state-run Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation to acquire 1,350 acres and selected Bharat Heavy Electricals for supply of boiler-turbine-generator. Further, it has taken a decision to provide ITI training to member of nearly 180 project affected families. Indiabulls has also proposed development of a green belt on 300 acres in the adjoining area.
An Indiabulls spokesperson said, "We are setting up the plant after receiving the letter of support, allotment of land and water from the state government, and environment clearance and coal linkages and all clearances. We have signed a 1,200Mw PPA with MSEDCL at Rs 3.26 per unit for 25 years, which is the cheapest in the state."
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been demanding a separate Vidarbha region, was quite vocal on this issue. BJP legislator Devendra Phadnavis told Business Standard, “It is ironical that the irrigation water meant for farmers is being given to the project. The party would continue to oppose the project implementation.”
Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena reiterated their opposition to the project. MNS leader recalled that it had recently taken out a morcha in Amravati to protest against the project.
Incidentally, Congress legislator Virendra Jagtap warned there would be serious political problems if his party, which is heading the coalition government, did not reconsider the project development.
B T Deshmukh, who recently lost the election to the state legislative council, informed that he has already filed a public interest suit against the project.
“Amravati is one of the five districts of Vidarbha region where farmers suicides take place. The district also has huge irrigation backlog. In such a situation, if the government allocates irrigation water for the upcoming project it would be disastrous for the region as a whole,” he noted.
Former Congress minister Sunil Deshmukh, who had lost as an independent to Raosaheb Shekhawat, son of President Patil in the 2009 assembly election, questioned the government’s motive to press for project development in Vidarbha and not in other regions, especially irrigation-rich western Maharashtra.
However, state power minister Ajit Pawar called upon parties and organisations not to oppose the project for the sake of opposition. He said power projects were required to overcome power shortage as the government has determined to make Maharashtra load-shedding free by 2012.
State power secretary Subrat Ratho admitted there was an opposition to the Indiabulls’ project in Amravati. He, however, made it clear there was no stoppage order from the state government.