Special Correspondent

CUDDALORE: A public hearing on the proposed 1,320-MW coal based power project of Cuddalore Power Company (CPC) was conducted amid tight security in the District Development Council Hall here on Wednesday.

The session witnessed thin attendance and many of those who turned out opposed the project.

Two persons who spoke in favour of the project dwelt on its employment potential.

At 10.30 a.m., only a handful turned up, creating doubts whether a hearing would be conducted at all. But Collector Rajendra Ratnoo, who presided, said that as per the April 2006 notification of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests no quorum was required for public hearing.

In all, 337 petitions were received and 22 villagers expressed their views. They said Thiagavalli and Kudikadu panchayats, comprising 18 villages, were saturated with pollution and one more industry would aggravate the situation.

The plant, planned on 445 hectares, would endanger ecology and rob them of their livelihood. Hot water discharge and flyash from the plant would affect marine life and crops besides causing health problems. The underwater pipeline would hinder fishing operation.

Company presentation

The Collector called upon the company representatives to give a power point presentation.

They said that the company would strictly adhere to all the norms. Since the plant would be run on imported coal, there would be minimal flyash generation. As seawater would be used only for cooling purpose, its characteristics would remain unaltered.

Mr. Ratnoo refuted the allegation that the villagers were prevented from attending the session. The villagers attributed the poor turnout to the indirect pressure put on them by the police personnel and the revenue officials.

The venue was cordoned off and the entry was permitted only after registration.

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