With only six days left for laying the foundation stone for the 4,000 MW thermal power plant at Kudgi in Basavana Bagewadi taluk of Bijapur district, the meeting convened on Thursday by the district administration and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to listen to farmers' grievances faced a severe setback.

As soon as the meeting began, farmers started opposing the State Government's decision to set up the plant, saying that it would spoil the export quality betel leaves, onion and other horticultural crops grown in and around the village. They also alleged that the authorities concerned had been misguiding the people of the State by saying that the land identified for the project was unfit for cultivation.

‘Land suitable'

The farmers said that the land selected for the project was suitable for cultivating horticultural crops of export quality, but owing to shortage of water farmers had not taken up cultivation. “ Farmers will grow quality betel leaves and earn profits amounting to lakhs of rupees every year if the authorities concerned provide 1 tmcft of water to the village from the Alamatti dam,” they said.

The farmers said that fly ash from the plant would pollute the water in the Alamatti dam, as the reservoir was only 15 km away from the plant site. This would affect the health of people who consume water from the dam. The authorities should come out with a plan to remove ash accumulated in the dam, they said.

The farmers said that as per the records, an average of 30,000 people residing around the Raichur thermal power plant had undergone treatment. The authorities concerned had not taken any steps to control the pollution from the plant.

The farmers, who raised slogans against the district administration and the State Government at the meeting, warned that they would not allow Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to lay the foundation stone for the plant on March 31.

After listening to the grievances, Deputy Commissioner R. Shantraju said the higher authorities would be apprised of them.

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