Farmers of Padebettu and nearby villages have taken serious objection to the discharge of effluents from the coal-based 1,200-MW thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd. (UPCL) coming up at Yellur in Udupi district.
Speaking at a meeting organised by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) here on Friday, Poovappa Poojary, a farmer, said that ever since saline water and effluents from the thermal plant began flowing into his fields from leaks in the pipelines, the banana plantation had been destroyed. The yields from arecanut and coconut tress had come down drastically in the last two years. Even cows were refusing to consume the grass grown with the polluted water. Crops in Padebettu, Yellur, Nandikur and Ulloor villages had been damaged, Mr. Poojary said.
Taniyappa Shetty, farmer, said that the Assistant Commissioner and tahsildar had promised to stop the discharge of saline water and effluents from the plant within 10 days about 40 days ago. But nothing had happened. Jayant Bhat, farmer, said that wells in the area had been polluted. False cases were being slapped against those who raised their voice against UPCL, he said.
The former president of the Yellur gram panchayat Shashidhar Shetty and president of the executive committee of the Nagarjuna Virodhi Horata Samiti Vijaykumar Hegde alleged that the Government had given permission to set up the thermal plant there in spite of a resolution by the gram panchayat against it.
Later, Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, president of the State unit of the KRRS, said at a press conference he would meet Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa within a week and apprise him about the problems being faced by farmers. The Government should either close down the thermal plant or initiate immediate steps to stop the pollution being caused by it. “Otherwise, we will launch a Statewide agitation on the issue,” Mr. Chandrashekhar said.