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Tata Power Odisha unit: Locals plan Singur-type stir

People in five villages lost 1,200 acres of agricultural land for the project that never took off

Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar 

Tata Power: Stormy board meet ahead

Land losers of Tata Power's 1000 Mw coal-based power project originally supposed to come up at Naraj near Cuttack, are bracing for an agitation on the lines of their counterparts in (West Bengal) who had demanded return of land lost for the Tata Motors' Nano project.

With relocating its project and later purportedly shelving it, the land losers are left with no livelihood option. People in five villages- Mundali, Talagarh, Naraj-Marthapur, Ramdaspur and Nuagaon had lost 1,200 acres of agricultural land for the project that never took off. The one-time compensation paid by the company for their surrendered lands is no solace for the people who are now battling for survival.

The land losers have staged a protest banner titled 'Sidheswar Anchalika Surakhya Committee', demanding return of their lands. The committee has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rescue them from the plight.

"The farmers who had lost their lands urge upon you to defuse this problem and to see that the land is given back to the respective land owners. In this context, the Supreme Court judgement on bears a special significance. We have decided to launch democratic, peaceful and non-violent struggle to get back our land since the land is the only source of our livelihood," Subash C Sahoo, secretary of the committee said in the letter to the Prime Minister.

The committee alleged that the land was acquired forcefully from the land losers and many irregularities were committed in the process of land acquisition. Public hearing was held at a distance of 20 km from the affected villages. Land for the Tata Power's project was acquired by the state government owned agency- Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) about a decade back and with no project or farming activity, the land had turned barren.

A spokesperson said, "is not developing any power plant at Naraj near Cuttack. has already written to the Government of (GoO) to take over the land. We have already formally agreed to handover the land back to GoO and expect them to take necessary steps to ensure smooth closure. understands that GoO would want to develop the land on their own, after settlement of take-over of the same."

It's not known if the state government would bring back the patch of acquired but unutilised land to its land bank or return it to the original land owners.

A senior official said, "We are yet to take a call on the issue of land acquired for the Tata Power's project. Any decision would be taken as per law."

Tata Power's efforts to set up a thermal power project in has come unstuck despite the company settling for three locations.

The original location for setting up the plant was Naraj-Marthapur, an ecologically sensitive zone. Initially, had planned to set up a 1,000 Mw plant, later enhancing the capacity to 2,000 Mw. But mounting protests from green activists over emissions from the power station near the Chandaka-Dampara sanctuary had forced the company to switch to gas as fuel.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the government for establishment of a 1,000 Mw coal-based plant on September 26, 2006. It had later proposed to scale up capacity of the plant to 2,000 Mw.

Based on Tata Power's request, the state government had approved the change of site from Naraj-Marthapur to Begunia, where 975 acres of land were identified for the project. As a last ditch effort, contemplated to set up a shore-based thermal power plant at Gopalpur where Tata Steel has surplus land. However, costlier imported coal together with the additional burden of putting up a desalination plant pushed the project on the back burner.