Drop Alpha Infraprop Thermal Plant Proposal: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that the government immediately cancel the public hearing scheduled on December 4 at Kotipam village for the proposed 2,640-watt mega thermal power plant by a private company Alpha Infraprop Pvt Ltd (AIPL) in Komarada mandal of Vizianagaram district. The government must also take steps to drop the thermal project proposal.

A HRF fact-finding team consisting of HRF State general secretary VS Krishna, State secretary K V Jagannadha Rao and Vizianagaram district president M Jagannadham recently visited several villages in Komarada mandal, spoke with local farmers and labourers and a cross-section of people. A large extent of the site for the proposed project clearly overlaps with the ayacut of the Vanakabaadi Gadda reservoir which was inaugurated with much fanfare by the Congress government in April 2006 and is presently under construction. It falls in the tribal sub-plan area. In fact, one Adivasi village, Battumogavalasa, which is facing submergence by the reservoir is being resettled and rehabilitated by the government. Once completed, this irrigation project will provide water for nearly 1,100 acres, a large extent of this for a second crop.

Most of the beneficiaries of this ayacut are Adivasis and SCs. How could the government allow a private thermal plant to come up in this ayacut, that too when farmers of the ayacut, mostly small and marginal ryots, will lose out on their livelihood? The project proponent has stated in the environment impact assessment (EIA) report that it has only acquired 551 acres of land from private land-holders, out of a total requirement of 1675 acres. This shows that the AIPL is still not in possession of the remaining land. Why are the revenue and irrigation departments silent about this? Why are concerned authorities not stating clearly that this is Vanakabaadi Gadda ayacut land and straightaway refusing requisite permission? Also, is the AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) not aware of these facts? Why is this farce of a public hearing taking place at all?

Moreover, 2.5 tmc of water has been assured to the AIPL from the Nagavali river! How could this allocation be done when available yield at Thotapalli barrage is 32 tmc and Andhra Pradesh’s share of this is 16 tmc and our State has been showing utilisation of 15.8 tmc? Farmers in the area, who are eagerly awaiting completion of the ongoing Thotapalli barrage works that is expected to raise the ayacut from the present 64,000 acres to about 1.5 lakh acres, are already agitated that water meant for agriculture would be diverted for this industry.

Also, there are over 25 forest blocks in a reserved forest area within a vicinity of 1.5 km-5 km from the proposed project site. To allow a thermal power industry in such close proximity is a violation of both Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) guidelines as well as environment protection norms. Needless to add, if this coal-based thermal plant comes up, it will cause immense and irreversible damage to the environment. Apart from destroying local livelihood of Adivasis and SCs and other communities and wiping out precious local water bodies, it will pollute the area as well as the Jhanjavathi and Nagavali rivers.

It is clear that a number of illegal and fraudulent methods have been employed by the project proponent so far in connivance with government functionaries of various departments. The HRF demands that the entire thermal project proposal be dropped and a thorough enquiry be held to get to the truth.

V S Krishna
HRF State general secretary


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