Defer Public Hearing For Thermal Plant Near Gurrampodu Thanda: HRF Submission

Mr. T Chiranjeevulu
District Collector

Sub: Public hearing for 200 MW coal-based power plant near Gurrampodu Thanda, Mattampalli mandal, Nalgonda district – Kindly defer–regarding.


We have serious concerns about the manner in which an environmental public hearing has been scheduled on December 31, 2013 for a 200 MW coal-based power project by M.G. Power Projects Ltd. near Gurrampodu Thanda in Mattampalli mandal. Our concerns are based on a thorough reading of the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA report) followed by a visit to the area. On December 25, a Human Rights Forum (HRF) team met and spoke with several sarpanches, farmers, students and employees in the villages of Pedaveedu, Krishna Thanda and Gurrampodu Thanda. We also visited the site of the proposed project.

The Draft EIA report suppresses vital information that is absolutely necessary to the local people before they can make an informed choice on the proposed project. The EIA report has glaring omissions, several inconsistencies and is a misleading document. Unless and until the issues which are relevant for the environmental clearance of the project are made public in a form intelligible and accessible to the people likely to be affected one way or other by the project, this hearing will be a mere formality, even a farce. We strongly urge you to defer the hearing slated for December 31.

The EIA report in English runs into 190 pages and contains a wealth of details including charts, maps and tables all of which are missing from the Telugu summary which is a mere 8 pages. In fact, the report in English is a fairly complex and technical one that even a well-informed person will find difficult to comprehend and interpret. How can the local people, consisting of largely the peasantry and the marginalised, be expected to understand it in a language alien to them? The truncated version in Telugu merely gives a bald statement of opinions and views without any of the reasoning or information on which it is based. It can hardly be the basis of any informed objections. As very valuable rights including right to health and livelihood will be affected by the project, the local people have a right to have the report translated into Telugu in full with all the charts, maps and tables so that a genuinely informed discussion can take place. This is more particularly necessary in view of the severe hazards posed by coal-based power generation.

Holding a public hearing on the environmental aspects of the project without making a copy of the full EIA report available in Telugu has thus reduced this hearing to a meaningless exercise. Even this 190-page English report and the 8-page report in Telugu has not been made available to the local people in a proper manner and sufficient time given them. In fact, residents of over 20 villages who will be impacted by the proposed project have no information at all except occasional reports in the media about the impending project. This is no way in which a public hearing ought to be held.

The EIA Report itself is faulty and misleading on several counts. For instance, the fact that there is a vibrant farming community in the area is sought to be played down in the report. In fact, abutting the project site are water distributary channels for a lift irrigation scheme located barely 2 km away containing an ayacut of over 2,000 acres. Also, further to the east of the proposed project site paddy is raised in a large extent. Within 10 km of the project site, there exists a single and double cropped area in a total extent of 148 square km. The EIA report is silent on these essential facts.

The project site demarcated in the EIA report is orginally land that was assigned to those displaced from the Guvvalagutta area during construction of the Nagarjuna Sagar project. The displaced, who are from the Scheduled Tribe community were assigned small extents, but over a period of time, and in plain violation of the law, these lands passed into the hands of private parties. Now a private entity is seeking to set up a coal-based thermal plant on land originally meant for sustaining STs.

In the matter of prior firm coal linkage, it is evident that the EIA Report violates guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF). There is absolutely no clarity or finality on the mix of indigenous/imported coals. The extent of ash or sulphur varies according to the nature of the coal. By not mentioning this important fact, the EIA Report precludes access to vital information about the very nature of pollutants that will be generated.

Furthermore, there is no mention in the EIA report about the impact pollutants from the plant will have on water bodies in the area. These water bodies, a key lifeline of various communities in the area, occupy a total of 26 square km area within a 10 km radius. Dry fly ash from the plant will surely impact these precious resources and to not mention this in the report is a glaring omission.

A rough calculation tells us that (assuming that the coal used is 100 per cent indigenous) coal combustion at this plant will result in fly ash generation of 1,300 tonnes every day. As is known, fly ash contains toxic heavy metals like zinc, cadmium, arsenic and mercury, uranium and thorium radioactive isotopes. There is no mention of this in the EIA report and consequently no discussion at all about mitigation measures. This is extreme callousness and criminal negligence by the EIA consultant.

You are aware that there are already a number of cement plants in Mattampalli mandal. During our visit, we saw at least 5 such units ranged in a semi-circle around the proposed project site and well within a 10 km radius. The local people have been suffering from a lot of pollution generated by these cement plants. Their health has suffered as a result and damage has happened to agriculture in the area. Members of occupational classes, today tappers in particular, have had their livelihoods seriously undermined as a result of emissions from these cement units. This is one of the reasons why a cumulative study should have been done for the thermal plant proposal. There is no such effort made in the present EIA Report.

We request you therefore, to immediately defer the public hearing. The Draft EIA report may be returned directing that changes might be done that are in tune with statutory guidelines. This much is required if the letter and spirit of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 are to be upheld. If, however, a public hearing is to be held despite these serious flaws, then it will defeat the very purpose of a public consultation process.

G Mohan
(HRF State secretary ) 

Ch Guruvaiah
(HRF Nalgonda dist. general secretary)   

P Subba Rao
(HRF Nalgonda dist. president)

 N Sulochana
(HRF Nalgonda dist. secretary)



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