Several rights, women, mass and dalit organisations as well as political parties will organise a protest dharna at the Visakhapatnam Collectorate on Monday at 10 a.m. demanding cancellation of the environmental clearance accorded to East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd (ECEPL) for constructing a thermal plant in the Kakarapalli wetland in Srikakulam district. The dharna will also to press for dropping of cases foisted upon the local people in the wake of the incidents of February 25 and 28.

According to State general secretary of Human Rights Forum (HRF), right from the start, both State officials as well as the project proponents withheld vital ecological information, falsified the ecological significance of the wetland, concealed sensitive information, fabricated data and destroyed evidence. “They continue to treat environmental regulations with contempt. We have been saying all along that the project location conflicts with both livelihood and conservation objectives. However, the government insisted on facilitating the project on this precious wetland, thereby leading to tragic loss of two lives in police firing on February 28. Following the killings, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) has only temporarily suspended ECEPL’s construction and has called for a meeting of its Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on March 7 to review the clearance regime for the project,” he stated.

HRF demanded scrapping of all clearances given to the ECEPL and action against all those officials who have colluded with the project proponent. The entire land handed over to ECEPL must be resumed by the government and the Naupada wetland system must be declared a conservation reserve.

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