Villagers and members of the ‘Anti Uppur thermal power station struggle committee’ staged a demonstration at Uppur near here on Sunday, protesting against acquisition of cultivable lands for the proposed 1,600 MW Uppur supercritical thermal power plant and demanding dropping of the project.
Led by advocate Theeran Thirumurugan, coordinator of the struggle committee, the villagers alleged that the thermal power project would affect farming, their only livelihood on the one hand and destroy the mangrove forest and sea wealth on the other. They also expressed apprehension that the project would cause serious health hazards and pollute the environment in the entire area.
Addressing the protest, Mr Thirumurugan wondered as how the project got environmental clearance when the law was clear that no project should be allowed within 13 km of mangrove forest and no project should be allowed to pollute the Gulf of Mannar, India’s only biosphere reserve.
Drawing of seawater and letting in of the water used in the plant would pose a serious threat to Gulf of Mannar, a repository of rich marine biodiversity of more than 4,000 species of marine flora and fauna, he said. Thiruvadanai being the rice bowl of the district would become a desert, if the project came up, he said.
“We are not only opposed to procuring farmlands for the project but opposed to the very establishment of the project,” the villagers said. The government had already taken over the irrigation supply channel of Vaigai water from the big tank, they said.
A section of the farmers had already moved the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court against acquisition of farmlands for the project and the case is coming up for hearing on June 26.
The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) should shift the project site to some other place in the district, they said. If TANGEDCO was allowed to alienate the lands, farmers and fishermen in more than seven villages would lose their livelihood, he said.