Saturday, February 26, 2011

Power corp dropped Kodinar project over green concerns.

 * Now a consortium is working on greendfield port and power plant project at site
The Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) had dropped a site in Kodinar taluka of Junagadh district last year for a proposed thermal power plant for two reasons: the site fell under the Coastal Regulatory Zone(CRZ) and the land was agricultural. But the same site has now been allocated to Shapporji Pallanji Energy (Gujarat) Private Limited (SPEL) for a power plant and a coal jetty project.
There are also three reserved forest areas and five water bodies within a radius of 9 km from the proposed site. These reserve forests at Sarkhai, Nanavad and Chhara, located in the periphery of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, are the migratory routes for the Asiatic lions.
The site in question involves five villages in Kodinar taluka – Sarkhadi, Chhara, Kaj, Velan and Kodinar. GSECL was planning two 800 MW coal-based power plants, while SPEL has proposed to set up two 660 MW plants and a coal jetty for which the public hearing on environment clearance was held in November 2010.
In a letter to Kodinar MLA Dhirsinh Barad, dated May 27 2010, D J Pandiyan, Principal Secretary, Energy and Petrochemicals said: “Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited had considered Chhara and Sarkhadi for two 800 MW power plants, but the project has been dropped as these villages fall under CRZ and has rich agricultural land.” A copy of the letter is with The Indian Express. The letter also contained an attached letter by P H Rana, Managing Director, GSECL, which said: “For two 800 MW power plant that GSECL had been considering to build, a proposal to the collector had been sent to acquire land at Sarkhadi, Kaj and Velan villages. But as large part of site comes under CRZ, the proposal was dropped. Later on, site at Chhara village was considered but as a large part was found to be agricultural land, the proposal was again dropped.”
Nevertheless, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) conducted a public hearing last November in connection with the development of Greenfield Port at Chhara by the SPEL – AFCONS – Forbes consortium for the proposed thermal power plants of 1,320 MW capacity within the revenue limits of Kaj village. The distance between the proposed coal-based thermal power plants and the Greenfield Port at Chhara village is about three km.
Villagers have alleged that Junagadh MP Dinu Solanki and District Collector A M Parmar did not allow them to raise environment issues. They have since filed a PIL with the High Court demanding re-hearing of the matter. The HC has issued notice to the state government and the Centre in response to the PIL.
Barad said: “The land is very fertile and the villagers grow two crops per season, which includes groundnut, wheat, coconut, sunflower and sugarcane. I don’t have any idea why permission has been given to SPEL, when the state government’s own company did not feel right to go ahead for environment reasons. We are not against industrialisation, but blind progress.”
Industry Commissioner G G Swain denied having details of the project with his department. Pandiyan said: “Shapporji Pallanji Energy Limited have proposed a power plant at Kodinar. But I have no knowledge that earlier GSECL had considered the same site. Land acquisition is a matter between the collectorate and the private parties when a company purchases it from farmers.”
When SPEL reportedly began purchasing farmland from the locals, Parmar maintained that the site does not cover agricultural land or comes under CRZ.
Jagu Kamaliya, deputy sarpanch of Charra village, however, said: “The company contacted us for some 1,000 bigha in our village near the sea. It is very much under CRZ. The company also contacted us to buy our farms. So it is wrong to say that it is not agricultural land.” The villagers claim they have been offered Rs. 2 to 5 lakh per bigha for their agricultural land.
Parmar added: “This time, the survey has been done from a different angle. The site no longer falls under CRZ or includes agricultural land.”

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