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Villagers back power plant

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By SUNIL PATNAIK
  • Published 11.01.14
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Berhampur, Jan. 10: Local residents today favoured the setting up of a 120MW thermal power plant at A Totapalli village in Ganjam district.

At a mandatory meeting of the villagers, the participants supported the project but made it clear that the plant should utilise the water through the desalination process instead of a deep bore well.

Hyderabad-based Dr Ramakrishna Prasad Power Private Limited has already obtained clearance from the state government for the Rs 600-crore 120MW coal-based thermal power project. The company has applied for environmental clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests.

The rules say that such a project can go ahead only with the local people’s consent.

At the proposed site, two former MLAs of Chhatrapur, Narayan Reddy and Ashok Chowdhury, expressed their opinions at the public hearing for environmental impact assessment of the project today. The district administration and the State Pollution Control Board organised the hearing.

“We have recorded the statements of 24 leaders of various political parties and the general public on this project and I would submit the report to the State Pollution Control Board, Bhubaneswar, within one week for further action,” said Prakash Kumar Mahapatra regional officer of the Pollution Control Board, Berhampur.

Chhatrapur additional district magistrate Sitanshu Rout conducted the public hearing that was attended by some 500 local residents and representatives of the power plant project including chairperson Bijayalaxmi Venigalla, directors Naveen Venigalla and Praveen Venigalla and general manager, Odisha, L. Bhogi Raju.

Of 19 villages under the Chamakhandi panchayat, the people of two villages —Narayanpur and Hariapalli — are opposing the project.

The protesters said that several industrial units had acquired land in and around the area promising to set up industrial units. But nothing had come up. So, they did not trust the power company.

Most participants at the meeting today expressed fear that the groundwater would be depleted if the power plant used bore well water. Fly ash would be another problem.

However, Raju said the company had already decided to install a rainwater harvest unit to recharge the ground water.

“Our plant will be a non-polluting one. Its pollution level will be very low because it would use modern technology and imported coal. The coal to be used will have six per cent ash content in comparison to Indian coal, which has 40 per cent ash,” he said.

Construction of the proposed plant will start in 2014 and complete in 2018. The plant will come up on 88 acres of wasteland. It will import 1,500 tonnes of coal from Indonesia every day.

The company will engage 70 technical staff and around 200 unskilled workers.