Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) State unit president Kodihalli Chandrashekhar said on Friday that the KRRS would lock the coal-based thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd (UPCL) on April 30 if the Government failed to solve the problems by then.

He was addressing a public meeting of the farmers on Kalsanka Road here.

Earlier, members of the KRRS took out a “Barkol Chaluvali”, where they held whips in their hands and went in a procession from the Service Bus Stand to the Kalsanka. They shouted slogans against UPCL and Higher Education Minister V.S. Acharya.

They were planning to hold a demonstration in front of Dr. Acharya's house but were prevented by the police. The district administration had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code in a radius of 500 metres of Dr. Acharya's house.

Mr. Chandrashekhar said that Dr. Acharya had opposed the thermal plant when he was in the Opposition but had turned its ardent supporter after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. He had not even bothered to hear the grievances of the people suffering because of the pollution caused by the plant. “Dr. Acharya should resign as a Minister on moral grounds,” he said.

It was known that a coal-based thermal power plant was unsuited for an eco-sensitive district such as Udupi. But all political parties covertly supported the thermal plant. The plant caused air and water pollution in the region.

The saline water from the thermal plant had destroyed the fields of farmers. Their crops such as paddy, coconuts, areca, plantain and jasmine had been destroyed. The wells in the region were contaminated. “The health of the people, especially the children, has been severely affected by the fly ash,” he said.

The plant would hamper fish production and affect fishermen. The environmental impact of this coal-based plant on the Western Ghats was incalculable.

“When the plant becomes fully operative and starts generating 1,200 MW of power, there will be an environmental catastrophe in the region,” he said.

The statement of Environment Minister J. Krishna Palemar supporting the plant was like rubbing salt into a festering wound. The State Government should hold a public debate on the thermal plant. “The UPCL must be closed down”, Mr. Chandrashekhar said.

KRRS district unit president Vijaykumar Hegde was present. The police took the protestors into preventive custody and later released them.

‘Bandh'

A “bandh” was observed in Mudrangady, Yermal, Yellur, Palimar, Padebettu, Nandikur and Padubidri villages in support of the “Barkol Chaluvali” taken out by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) against the problems caused by the coal-based thermal power plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd (UPCL) in Udupi on Friday. During the “bandh”, all business establishments downed shutters. Vehicles such as autorickshaws, cars and tempos were off the road. Only buses plied on as usual. While the “bandh” was observed from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Padubidri, it was observed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the other places.

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