The Human Rights Forum (HRF) strongly urges the AP government to drop the proposal to set up a super thermal power project of 4000 MW capacity by the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC) near Pudimadaka in the Atchyutapuram-Rambilli mandals of Visakhapatnam district. If the plant is established it would result in an environmental and human disaster in the area.
Residents in the region are already suffering acutely from the toxic pollutants being emitted by the NTPC Simhadri plant of 2000 MW capacity. There is a possibility of another 1000 MW thermal power being added by the nearly complete Hinduja National Power Corporation Ltd (HNPC) plant nearby. Both these projects are only about 20 km from Pudimadaka where a 4000 MW coal-based energy project is now being proposed. This would mean a combined capacity of a staggering 7000 MW in a fairly short stretch of land. Also, not very far from this area is the highly polluting Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City. A single power plant of 1000 MW is in itself a serious threat to the environment. To imagine 7000 MW in such a small area is mind boggling. This is a recipe for a human and ecological disaster in the area. The negative consequences of these plants on human, marine health and the ecology will be multiple causing irreparable and irreversible injury.
Given the nature of coal combustion, these projects will contaminate the land, water and air with significant amounts of mercury, lead, zinc, cadmium, arsenic, chromium and even radioactive isotopes. Generating electricity on this scale will involve burning huge amounts of coal every day and the spewing of thousands of tonnes of toxic ash and sulphur into the environs. It will involve a daily drawal of about 10 lakh cubic meters of water from the sea and the pumping back of waste water at higher temperatures thereby destroying marine wealth. As is evident from such drawal and pumping by the NTPC Simhadri plant, these thermal plants directly undermine fisher-folk livelihood.
It is well to remember that the world over, nations are moving away from thermal power plants. This is because of the sound understanding that coal is an extremely dirty source of energy and a realization that practical and sustainable alternatives like solar and wind power are indeed available. Rejection of fossil fuels is also because of growing awareness about the threat of climate change to which these energy sources are direct contributors.
Both the State government and the MOEF have been extremely callous in according clearances for such projects without bothering to sincerely comply with statutory obligations. Local people have been fed false promises of jobs which are simply not there. Instead of halting this environmental vanadalism, the government is busy trying to facilitate it. Consequently, there is a human and environmental disaster waiting to happen in the district. The combined pollution onslaught of these plants will affect human health within a 25 km radius and agriculture within a radius of 80 to 100 km. There is not even an attempt at a thorough cumulative appraisal of all these projects. There is simply no effort by government and regulatory agencies at a comprehensive and integrated appraisal on the impact of these highly polluting projects on land, sea, livelihoods, agriculture, ecology, water bodies and health of the people.
These thermal plants are a threat not only to residents of Pudimadaka, Lalam Koduru, Lovapalem, Jangireddypalem, Sitapalem, krishnampalem, Duppituru, Tikkavanipalem, Mutyalammapalem, Pittavanipalem, Devada, Swayambhuvaram and other villages in the Atchyutapuram, Paravada and Pedagantyada mandals but also Visakhapatnam city itself. HRF demands that the proposed public hearing for the NTPC 4000 MW plant slated for August 12 be cancelled forthwith. The government must embark on a cumulative environmental appraisal of all existing thermal, pharma and other polluting industries in the region. Till such an appraisal is done, all such projects must be put on hold.
VS Krishna M Sarat
(HRF general secretary, AP & TS) (HRF Vizag district president)