They are protesting against thermal plant coming up at Balavaram

About 4,000 voters of this village including Balavaram hamlet of Bhalabhadrapuram mandal in East Godavari have decided to boycott the ongoing panchayat polls, and have unanimously taken a decision not to file any candidate from their villages. Cutting across party lines the villagers, who met under the banner of Balavaram Thermal Plant Vyathireka Porata Committee, have taken this decision. It was mentioned that “Until and unless the government withdraws the permissions already given and assures in writing that it is not going to give permission to Thermal Power plant in Balavaram, the villagers of Dontamuru panchayat will not allow any official to conduct election process or field any candidate in panchayat polls.” The copies of the same were sent to the district Collector, State Election Commissioner and also to the Chief Minister and other higher officials.

It has to be recalled that KPR Industries (India) Limited is all set to start 100 MW Thermal Power Plant in the vicinity of Balavaram hamlet. The KPR Industries (India) Limited, who are running the chemical factory in Bikkavolu mandal, have acquired land for 100 MW captive thermal power plant for its proposed caustic soda plant and pesticides factory between Dontamuru and Balabhadrapuram. The villagers have launched a massive agitation on this from February 2 this year, and a public hearing conducted by the Collector on July 6 of the same month was disrupted by the agitators. Police resorted to caning in which 40 people including four policemen were injured.

Meanwhile, the KPR Industries (India) Limited got permission for their caustic soda factory in March and several political parties extended their support to a relay hunger strike taken up by the Porata Committee which entered the 156th day on Saturday. “We came to know that the management of the factory got permissions for acid division also, which produces 1 lakh tonnes of sulphuric acid per annum which is hazardous to health of villagers in this area,” said Padala Rama Reddy, who led the agitation from the beginning, and several cases were filed against him during the movement and also sent to jail. Nallamilli Ramakrishna Reddy of TDP, who was also present in Grama Sabha, said that despite agitation and relay hunger strike by the villagers, the government is not responding, and is giving permissions undemocratically.

Girijala Sattibabu and Kakarla Suribabu, president and secretary respectively of Porata Committee said that they will intensify the agitation immediately after the panchayat polls.