Andhra Pradesh

A valiant fight that inspired many a battle

A memorial of Sompeta movement built at Baruva village in Srikakulam district.

A memorial of Sompeta movement built at Baruva village in Srikakulam district.  

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Environmentalists recall the impact of ‘Sompeta movement’

‘Sompeta movement’, the mother of all green battles in Andhra Pradesh, which was launched to protect wetland of Beela in Srikakulam district by fighting against the establishment of a coal-based thermal power project, has completed eleven years. It influences others to take up similar agitations to save their ecosystems -- Nowpada swamp, Kannedhara hill of Savara tribe and others.

A day after three people were killed in the police firing on July 14, 2010 in the heart of the wetland during the clash, the National Environmental Appellate Authority had quashed the environment clearance for setting up the 2640 MW thermal power plant proposed by the Nagarjuna Construction Company Limited in 972 acres at Beela which spreads above 4,000 acres.

In October 2008, locals launched the green battle opposing the power project in the Pedda Beela wetland and drawn the attention of all environmentalists in the country to support it.

Water Man of India Rajendra Singh, who joined the movement, told The Hindu on Tuesday; “The movement had its echo across the country. It had influence on the environmental movements that began after it in Andhra Pradesh.”

Huge support

In the battle launched under the banner of Paryavarana Porata Samithi (PPS), fisherfolk from 24 villages in the Sompeta region, farmers and people of all walks of the society had directly participated in it until the project was shelved.

“Initially, it took a year for us to prove the existence of the movement. We later fought it with the support of the environmentalists across the country. The influence of the Beela movement was visible in every other environmental movement in the State in the past decade,” said PPS founder president Y. Krishna Murthy.

On July 14, 2010, three persons -- Gonapa Krishna Murthy (Lakkavaram) and Gunna Joga Rao and Bendalam Krishna Murthy of Palsavpuram village - were killed in the police firing. It had shown the preparedness of the local communities even to sacrifice their lives to protect the wetland. “We have directly joined the other contemporary environmental movements for the protection of Naupada swamp and Kannedhara hill in the Savara tribal belt,” he said.

Post-Beela movement, the Savara tribe, led by sarpanch Savara Mukhalingam, had won their battle launched after being influenced by the Beela movement, in the protection of the Kannedhara hill in Srikakulam agency from the granite mining by the Virgin Rock Private Limited.

In 2012, The Sompeta movement inspired director R. Narayana Murthy to document it through his movie ‘People’s War’.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 3:07:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/a-valiant-fight-that-inspired-many-a-battle/article30020015.ece

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