Visakhapatnam: Tribals of several villages in ASR district up in arms against hydroelectric project

Tribals protesting against the proposed Yerravaram project, at Koyyuru in ASR district.

Tribals protesting against the proposed Yerravaram project, at Koyyuru in ASR district.

Around 1,500 families from 27 villages in Chintapalli mandal and five villages of Koyyuru mandal are up in arms over the State government’s proposed Yerravaram Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project as they apprehend a threat to their way of life once the project begins functioning.

The tribals fear that their lives will never be the same again as the ₹5,400-crore project envisages acquisition of almost 800 acres of land, which would entail resettlement and rehabilitation of all the villages falling in the project-displaced area. Once completed, the project will generate 1,200 MW of power.

“The tribals are not against the construction of the project per se, but are opposing it due to past experiences and sufferings of the tribal community,” said CPI(M) State Secretariat member Ch. Narasinga Rao.

“In the past, when our brethren were displaced by the Machkund and Sileru hydroelectric projects, the lives of 25,000 families were permanently changed. From being proud landholders of small farms, they became tenant farmers in non-schedule mandals in erstwhile Visakhapatnam district,” said a farmer from Ganagula village in Chintapalli mandal.

The project is coming up at Ganagula village and 32 villages in two mandals will be affected by it.

According to Mr. Narasinga Rao, though a few thousand families were rehabilitated after the Machkund and Sileru projects had come up, 25,000 families are yet to get their due.

They were asked to settle in non-schedule mandals such as Cheedikada, Devarapalli and Ravikamatam, which were then under Visakhapatnam district, but post bifurcation, the mandals are now part of Anakapalli district.

“Once a tribal settles down in villages that do not fall under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution or non-schedule villages, they lose all benefits that are guaranteed by the Fifth Schedule,” he said.

Over the last few days, the tribals from the 32 villages in both mandals that are under the Fifth Schedule have been taking out rallies and organising protests and are determined that they will not allow the project to come up.

The Yerravaram Pumped Storage Hydro Power Project is proposed to be constructed across small hill streams in the mountain ridges of the Darakonda reserve forest near Ganagula village, and will flow into the Thandava reservoir, which is now in Anakapalli district.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 9:08:30 pm |