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Open more talks with villagers: Power ministry to Karnataka govt

Villagers near Mangalore protest against an ultra mega power project

Written by Priyadarshi Siddhanta | New Delhi |
July 16, 2013 2:47:38 am

A fact-finding team of the power ministry has asked the Karnataka government to open talks with the residents of three villages near Mangalore,who are protesting the construction of an ultra mega power plant (UMPP).

The project incorporated in 2006 is being built by Coastal Karnataka Power Limited,which envisages an annual production of 4,000 MW of power.

The project has run into serious land acquisition troubles as the residents of Niddodi,Badagamijar and Tenkamijar villages in the Mangalore taluk of the Dakshina Kannada district have refused to partake their land for the mega project.

One reason for this apprehension is the record of the state government that had failed ensure adequate rehabilitation of the displaced whose land were taken away for similar ventures earlier,in the adjoining areas.

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A team of senior officials from the central electricity authority (CEA),Power Finance Corporation and related departments of the Karnataka government,which visited the villages on May 16 faced opposition from the locals.

The villagers had serious concerns on the environmental damage that the project would bring about. “They were also against acquisition of their agricultural land. The state government will need to interact with the agitating villagers and obtain their consent for locating the UMPP,” the team said in its report accessed by the The Indian Express.

The villagers told the team members that the construction of a power generation project by Udupi Power Corporation Limited which is about 12-13 kms from their area had happened without adequately addressing the relief and rehabilitation issues and a similar ordeal can get repeated here as well.

According to the land acquisition bill,the process for acquiring land should involve time-bound compensation to those partaking their land,besides providing rehabilitation and resettlement to the impacted populace.

The state government officials told the visiting panel that about 400 families may get displaced on account of the project,which can be brought down to 200 if the area identified is suitably modified. The side is situated about 12 kms from the Mangalore airport and 15 kms away from the sea coast.

Considering the opposition from the villagers,the team in report has asked the state to refrain from acquiring farm land for the venture.

“The state agencies have been advised to avoid agricultural land and plantations to the maximum extent possible,” the team observed in their report.

Since the project would need a contiguous land of 600-700 acres of which some areas are classified as forest land,the panel has asked the state government to check the status of the proposed land to ascertain its status before executing acquisition.

“We met the Karnataka government’s principal energy secretary on May 17 and shared our findings. He assured us of quick action on various issues as brought out by us,” a team member told this newspaper.

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