Srikakulam cannot sustain five thermal power plants: expert

R.Jagadeeswara Rao

Strong opposition from fishermen community as also some NGOs

Industrialists prefer to locate thermal plants along the coast because of import of coal: expert

Guidelines prohibit location of plants near breeding, nesting and fish nurseries

VISAKHAPATNAM: “Setting up of five thermal power projects within a radius of about 150 km is not advised and Srikakulam district, for that matter, any other district, cannot support such a proposal. The distance between any two such large thermal power plants should be maximum,” according to K. Kameswara Rao, a senior professor of Environmental Sciences in Andhra University.

It may be mentioned here that five thermal power projects are proposed to be set up in Srikakulam district. While the work on Nagarjuna Construction Company’s 2,640 MW capacity plant and the East Coast Energy project with similar capacity is about to start, the other three are in a preliminary stages. Both are proposed to be set up along the coast and people, mostly fishermen, living along the coast expressed serious concern over the health hazards their livelihood prospects because of establishment of these projects. The Srikakulam district administration convened two meetings of all stakeholders to elicit their views. There was strong opposition from the fishermen community, as also some NGOs and environmental activists.

Speaking to The Hindu, Prof. Kameswara Rao, pointed out that there are certain guidelines for location of the thermal projects. Invariably, industrialists prefer to locate them along the coast because of import of coal from countries like Indonesia. This is quality coal and the ash content ranges from 10 to 12 per cent as compared to indigenous coal’s 30 per cent. However guidelines prohibit location of plants near breeding, nesting and fish nurseries. The sea mouth where river water merges with it forms fish nurseries. This gets disturbed because of location of plant near it, Prof. Kameswara Rao said.

On release of ash and hot water from the plants he said that if the variation in temperature of water released is less than five degree Celsius there would not be any problem.

There are technologies to ensure this. But there is the problem of ‘confidence’ he said. Opponents would entertain doubts about the assurances of management about the treatment of water released. The best way out is to involve local bodies and entrust the final release of hot water to local people. There should be transparency and foolproof mechanism for this, he said.

Srikakulam district is already facing pollution problems because of location of more than 100 cashew nut processing units in and around Palasa and Kasibugga. Then there is sand mining activity which also results in environmental problems.

These is also the proposal to set up a nuclear power plant near Ranasthalam. “Srikakulam cannot sustain or support five thermal power plants of the proposed magnitude in a radius of less than 200 km,” Prof. Kameswara Rao said.

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