The State government has finally cancelled the land allotted to the NCC Limited for setting up the 1,980 MW thermal power plant at Sompeta in Srikakulam district, an area which had witnessed prolonged agitation by farmers and fishermen, culminating in the death of three people in police firing on July 14, 2010.
In a move that could trigger another controversy, the government has decided to allot the resumed land to the same company, this time around, for setting up a multi-product industry zone.
Sompeta has been a hot spot of people’s agitation ever since the government allotted the land, wetland with rich biodiversity, for the setting up of the power plant.
Locals are up in arms against the government’s decision, which, they claim, was based on false claims that the allotted land was wasteland, not wetland ‘beela’ as it is called in the local parlance.
The land is said to be housing as many as 493 plant species, 123 bird and 120 medicinal plant varieties that would be affected if it is alienated for industrial purposes.
The protesters were not convinced with the Cabinet decision on cancellation of allotment of land to the thermal power project, and there was no celebration in the villages when the Cabinet pronounced its decision on cancellation of the project.
The latest orders came at a time when the villagers are firm that the government should withdraw any proposal for converting the beela (wetland), which had been sustaining them from generations, into an industrial hub.
The National Environmental Appellate Authority had cancelled the environmental clearance given to the power plant on the same day when police opened fire on the agitating people.
A fact-finding committee of concerned citizens headed by a retired judge faulted police highhandedness in firing at the unarmed and peacefully agitating fishermen.
Elaborating on the reasons for cancelling the power project, the government recalled the company’s representation, asserting that it had secured important clearances/consents from the authorities concerned and had spent Rs. 80 crore on the development of the land.
NCC told to develop multi- product industrial zone