Fishermen prevent shifting of barge-mounted power plant

SUPPORT:Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj (centre) in a discussion with the protesting fishermen at the Old Bunder port in Mangalore on Friday.  

Special Correspondent

Plant promoters are shifting it to Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh

State has stopped buying power from the plant due to tariff concerns

Shifting to be allowed only after removal of sand from channel

MANGALORE: Fishermen on Friday stopped the barge-mounted power plant from being shifted to Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh from the Gurupura estuary at Tannirbhavi.

The 220-MW plant of GMR-Energy (formerly known as Tannirbhavi Power Project) is being shifted as the State Government has stopped purchasing power from it owing to tariff concerns.

The plant managers have launched large-scale dredging of the estuary to facilitate the shifting of the plant mounted on a barge. Fishermen have expressed their displeasure over the dumping of sand in the channel, which is used by the fishing boats to access the Arabian Sea. They fear that this will cause accidents and damage the boats, besides posing a threat to fishermen's lives.

About 50 boats, mostly engaged in purse-seine fishing, surrounded the barge early on Friday and allegedly attempted to push it back, even as tugs hired by the plant promoters were trying to move it out of the estuary and out into the sea. Raising slogans against the company, the fishermen alleged that the company might not remove the sand from the channel, if the barge was allowed to move out.

Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj, who arrived on the scene, sought to know from Port Officer Mohan Kudri whether the plant promoters had dumped sand in the places identified.

Mr. Kudri said they had not adhered to the instructions. Asked why was the plant allowed to be shifted in that event, the official did not reply.

The Deputy Commissioner instructed the representative of the GMR Group, who identified himself as its vice-president (Operations and Management) S.N. Birde, to move the barge back to its original position till the demand of fishermen was met to their satisfaction.