Environmentalists and farmers of Basavana Bagewadi taluk of Bijapur district are up in arms against the Kudgi Super Thermal Power Project (KSTPP) that is coming up in the region.
Retired nuclear scientist M P Patil has taken the matter to the Supreme Court and says he would not rest until the project is shelved. The National Green Tribunal had suspended the environmental clearance to NTPC’s 2,400 Mw Kudgi Super Thermal Power Plant project for falsifying information while seeking the mandatory green nod.
The NTPC approached the Supreme Court within 24 hours, appealing against the tribunal’s order. The division bench of the Supreme Court subsequently stayed the Green Tribunal’s order as a result of which, work in Kudgi has resumed. The project got the clearance from the Environment Ministry in January, 2012. The public sector company, instead of disclosing that the plant was on prime agricultural land, claimed it was a barren land.
This was done to avoid adverse decision from the environmental authorities as the ministry does not encourage setting up of thermal power plants and other industrial units on prime agricultural land.
Calling it a “willful suppression of facts”, the Green Tribunal ordered the ministry to re-evaluate the case and put the existing clearance under the Environment Protection Acton on hold.
Patil said, he would continue to fight the project as it would harm the ecology of the region.
The farmers in Bijapur district have already sacrificed thousands of acres of fertile agricultural land for construction of the Almatti Dam across the Krishna River and acquisition of more land for establishment of Kudgi Super Thermal Power Project (KSTPP) is rubbing salt into their wounds, Patil asserted.
He said, the state government had allocated 5.2 tmc of water to the NTPC annually and it was not necessary. With the same quantum of water, 50,000 acres could have been brought under irrigation.
He refuted the claims of the NTPC that the plant would not cause any harm to the environment and asked why the NTPC had erected a chimney with 30 metre diameter and 270 metre height.
Patil accused the state and Centre of taking the people of Bijapur district for a ride when he said the plant that was to be set up at Tadadi in Uttara Kannada district was being imposed on Bijapur district after the locals and elected representatives in Uttara Kannada raised a hue and cry.
The foundation stone for the KSTPP was laid on June 2, 2012. The stage I of the KSTPP envisages production of 3x800 Mw of thermal power and the ultimate capacity of the project is 4,000 Mw. NTPC has claimed that the project, when commissioned, would change the face of North Karnataka region by facilitating irrigation projects and also industrial units, thereby opening the floodgates to employment opportunities.
While 50 per cent of the power generated would go to Karnataka, the rest will be shared by Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
An NTPC official when contacted, said the corporation has informed the Supreme Court in its appeal on the importance of the project in Bijapur district in the national interest as well as in view of the development of the region. The work is in progress with huge investments and stopping it would hamper the timely completion of the project which is vital for capacity addition in a power starved country like India, he added.
“The Kudgi project will also help improve the economy of the area,” he added. Farmers’ apprehension about environment getting adversely affected in not correct, as high quality coal would be imported from Australia which will not harm either the crop or health of the people. When commissioned, the power plant will play a major role in boosting the economy of the district and help provide better education and employment opportunity, the official asserted.