Govt, NCC Responsible For Deaths In Police Firing At Sompeta: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) strongly condemns the police firing upon people near Sompeta and holds the State government and the Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC) squarely responsible for the present state of affairs leading to fatalities and injuries to many people. According to initial reports, two persons have died as a result.

The NCC’s attempt to enter the land for clearing and leveling work is patently illegal. The police and district administration, instead of stopping them from going ahead with this illegality, actively aided the company by deploying a huge contingent of police in the area since yesterday. This was despite the fact that thousands of farmers, fisherfolk and members of various occupational classes in over 35 villages in the area have, in a democratic and peaceful manner, been consistently opposing moves to construct the plant.

The NCC’s attempt to take up even basic construction activity is in violation of the Environment (Protection) Act as they are yet to be given Consent for Establishment (CFE) by the AP Pollution Control Board. Also, NCC has not obtained requisite permission under the AP Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA). Appeals have been filed against the authenticity of the environmental clearance accorded to NCC with the National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA). In fact, a two-member team from the NEAA, including its member secretary Dr Kala and Dr S K Kaul, an expert on wetlands, made a site visit to the ‘beela’ area on June 29 this year. The NEAA’s judgment is awaited.

There is also an appeal in the AP High Court which has issued notices and the matter is pending. There is also a complaint pending with the AP State Human Rights Commission against the establishment of a coal-based thermal plant in a precious water body.

It is pertinent to point out here that in a report prepared by Dr. Asad Rahmani of the reputed Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Dr. Asha Rajvanshi of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the need to protect the wetlands of Srikakulam and the desirability of dropping NCC’s project forthwith was made out. The Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBW), at its 17th Meeting held on 22-12-09, had unanimously adopted the report.

Several organisations, concerned citizens and environmentalists have repeatedly pointed out to the Central and the State governments not to permit NCC to set up any power project at the proposed site since it is located within a wetland where no industrial activity can be permitted under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the various rules and regulations issued thereunder.

The government must initiate steps to see that the NCC leaves the area and steps must be taken to ensure that the NCC does not make any further attempts to begin construction of any kind. The government, must take steps, in conjunction with the AP State Biodiversity Board to get the Sompeta ‘beela’ area declared as a Heritage Site. All steps must be taken to protect this valuable wetland. 

VS Krishna
HRF State general secretary


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