Monday, January 18, 2010

Hankon Thermal Power Plant - 7 - Project Shelved on Persistent Agitations

Ind-Bharath Thermal Power Company Limited (IBTPL) which had proposed to set up a thermal power plant at Hanakon near Karwar has decided not to go ahead with the project following opposition from environment activists and the general public.
The decision of IBTPL and the samiti has come as a surprise to many. The samiti members hurriedly called the press conference and declared that they would withdraw all the criminal cases of forgery and cheating that they had filed against IBTPL. Mr. Vasurao said that IBTPL would withdraw the cases filed against the samiti members. The samiti leaders who had been accusing the company all along for using money and muscle power to curb the agitation against the proposed thermal power plant, lauded IBTPL for deciding against the project. Samiti leaders and Mr. Vasurao said that there was a misunderstanding and communication gap because of which there were problems.
Blaming the forest officials for providing the wrong information about the distance between Hanakon and Curtogoa Wildlife Sanctuary, Mr. Vasurao said that IBTPL relied on their report and went ahead with the project. He said IBTPL had no role in the atrocity committed by the police on the agitators on July 30, and said the guilty should be punished.
Asked whether it was a “give and take arrangement” between IBTPL and the few leaders of the samiti, Mr. Vasurao said there was nothing murky in the whole deal and it was done purely in the interests of the people of Karwar. The samiti offered full cooperation to IBTPL if it sets up an “eco-friendly” industry.
Mr. Vasurao said IBTPL would chalk out an alternative plan to develop the land it had purchased in Hanakon. Later, the samiti leaders and Mr. Vasurao went to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and signed an agreement with regard to the decision not to set up thermal power plant in Hanakon.
The sudden decision of some of the leaders of the samiti has created resentment among the other leaders who stayed away from the press meet. Some leaders who were imprisoned in Bellary Central Jail during the agitation were found arguing outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office with those who signed the pact with IBTPL without informing others.
A committee member, seeking anonymity, said that some leaders who were out to take the political mileage out of the agitation had called the press meet without knowledge of others. He said only the leaders from the Congress party were present and other leaders belonging to different other parties were informed in the last minute deliberately so as to keep them away from the press conference. Source - The Hindu

The Times of India Report of this news - This is the second major power plant project in Karnataka getting shelved in the recent times following protest by the local population and environmentalists. In 2007, the state government had dropped the proposed 1,000-mega watt capacity Chamalapura thermal power project at Mysore following stiff resistance.

In 2004, Karnataka had initially proposed to build a 300 MW thermal power project in Hanakona but subsequently due to power crisis in the state, raised the capacity to 400 MW project. The company had obtained a clearance from the state and the Centre and was awaiting a nod from the Pollution Control Board.

The locals and environmentalists had strongly opposed this project. In early 2009, events took a serious turn when police fired in the air to disperse the mob which was protesting during the shifting of the essential materials in the project site.

This had kicked off sporadic incidents of violence and the leader of the agitators and 17 women had been arrested. Even the reported police atrocity on several of the agitators had created a controversy.

Later, noted activist Medha Patkar and other political and non-political leaders joined the agitation. “We have already written a letter to the ministry of environment & forests about the plans to shift the thermal power plant from Karwar to Tuticorin,’’ Rao said, adding that they will also withdraw all the cases slapped against the agitators. As an alternative plan, he said the company now plans to start an eco-friendly project, including health resort, golf club, engineering or medical colleges with super speciality hospital at the land purchased by it in Hanakona to set up the power plant.

Meanwhile, sources said the company was also miffed with the Goa government for giving them false information which they had sought before initiating steps to set up the project. “The Goa government in a letter to the company had claimed that the distance between the project site and the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary was over 17 km. Later the company on verification realized that the wildlife sanctuary was within 5 km from the project site,’’ company officials said. Source

While company officials refused to comment, government sources confirmed the development. They said the company was planning to set up 3x150-Mw, coal-based, thermal power project, which was first planned for Hankon in Andhra Pradesh.
The land requirement is estimated at 220 acres and is likely to use a blend of imported and Indian coal, in a ratio of 80:20. The imported coal requirement is estimated to be 1.28 million tonnes per annum and will be sourced from Indonesian collieries, added sources.
The project may use the port of Tuticorin to import coal, which is in the process of investing Rs 538 crore to increase the draft at main berths, entry channels and turning circles. Currently, the port is handling around 7.5 million tonnes of coal every year, which is expected to increase to 12.5-13 million tonnes by 2012.
Ind-Barath Power currently has an operating capacity of 375 Mw and is setting up plants with 3,000 Mw of capacity. It has also tied up debt of Rs 2,600 crore for a 800 Mw coal-based power plant in Orissa. Its other projects are coming up in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
In October, the company raised $100 million in funding from Sequoia Capital India, Bessemer Venture Partners and Citi Venture Capital International (CVCI). The troika would be getting an 18 per cent stake in the power generation company, which is valued at over Rs 2,100 crore, according to agency reports.
This was the second round of funding for Ind-Barath, which raised Rs 300 crore in 2007 from CVCI and UTI Ventures.
Ind-Barath's power plant was originally planned for Hankon, which is in Karnataka, and not Andhra Pradesh, as mentioned in the story. 

Hankon thermal plant moves to Thoothukudi

It’s now official. Ind Bharat Power (Karwar) Limited, a private company based in Hyderabad, which proposed the establishment of a 3x150 MW coal-based thermal power project at Hankon near here, officially declared here on Saturday that the proposal had been dropped and the proposed project would be shifted to Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. He said it was pointed out in the letter that the company was not able to implement the project due to political, environmental and other unforeseen reasons. He said the materials brought for the project were being shifted to the new project location in Tamil Nadu.

GOLF CLUB, HOSPITAL PROPOSED: Rao said the company is proposing to establish eco-friendly projects such as a health resort with golf club and a medical college with a hospital on the site at Hankon. The local people had welcomed it, he said. The necessary environment impact assessment study would be carried out in this regard, he added.
Source - Express Buzz

Success !!!
The Hyderabad based Ind- Bharath Power (Karwar) Limited has decided to shift its 450-MW coal-based thermal power plant project to Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu from Hanakon in Uttara Kannada district. It is the victory for the people of Hanakon and surrounding villages, who have been fighting against the thermal project for the last two years.

These people had waged a war against the project on all fronts - legal, social, cultural, emotional and political. From the small village of Hanakon, they took their complaint to Delhi, woke the authorities up and convinced them how dangerous the project would be if implemented. They even roped in environmentalists like Medha Patkar to oppose the project. They were so emotional that the Gabit community had even gone to the extent of returning the palanquins the Asnotikar family had donated to a temple in their village.

What is more important here is that these Gabit community members preferred to return the palanquins — a spiritually and sentimentally important symbol for these innocent villagers — to antagonising the politically influential Asnotikar family.

Only those who know the influence of deities in an Indian rural situation can understand how hard it is to take such a daring decision in a remote and conservative village of Uttara Kannada district. During the annual fair of Sateri Devi in Hanakon, the only prayer the villagers had made before the deity was to stop the thermal power project from being implemented.

When the company announced its decision to shift, the first thing the villagers did was to offer special puja and to burst crackers to thank the deity. Had the company not shifted its project to Tamil Nadu, these villagers were ready to launch a Singur style of protest in Hanakon.

The success here is a lesson for the people of Uttara Kannada: Unity and active participation of local leaders can prevent an authority — be it government or a private agency — from implementing any anti-people project.

But what pains at this juncture is when the union government decided to set up a nuclear power plant in Kaiga in the late 1980s there was no similarly satisfactory local support for the people who opposed the project. The protest was led by mostly the outsiders to this region. People from Sirsi and other places used to go there for protest. But Karwar people did not participate. Local people involved in the protest only at the end of the decade-long struggle against the nuclear power project.

The then octogenarian litterateur and Jnanapeetha award winner Dr Shivarama Karanth, who hailed from the neighbouring Dakshina Kannada district, had contested Lok Sabha election in 1989 as a symbolic protest against the Kaiga nuclear power project.

He suffered a humble defeat in the election. The environmentalists protested against the project because the location was situated in an ecologically sensitive area of the Western Ghats and the site of the project had seismic faults. There were many more reasons to protest the Kaiga nuclear power plant.

The nuclear power project would not have come up in Kaiga if there had been an active local participation against that project then, as in the case of thermal power plant in Hanakon.

Going by the list of projects the state government now has on its hand, taking a respite from similar protests seems to be a distant dream for the people of Uttara Kannada. A diesel-based thermal power plant in Tadadi, development of Tadadi into an all-weather port and a large scale steel plant somewhere in Uttara Kannada are under serious consideration of the state government.

Without conducting a study of the ecological bearing capacity of Uttara Kannada district in particular and one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots of Western Ghats in general, will it be feasible to have so many projects in one district? People of Uttara Kannada district will have to question the governments. Hanakon success is in front of them as a model.Source  - Express Buzz