Opposition to coal in India
See also: Fatalities at anti-coal protests
With multiple proposed coal plants and mines under development in India, opposition from local residents has intensified due to land seizures, air pollution impacts, fly ash contamination of groundwater, effect of thermal discharges on fisheries, displacement of communities, and other impacts. As the map below shows, opposition has been reported in all parts of the country with notable concentrations in Chhattisgarh, coastal Andhra Pradesh, coastal Maharashtra, and Punjab.
Within India, grassroots opposition to coal continues to be intense -- and the opposition is showing success
Table 1 shows the locations of at least 39 plants that have been the subject of opposition. More details may be found at Opposition to coal in India. To date, clashes over coal mines, plants, and rail lines have been less intense in 2012 than in 2011. That year saw large scale-scale protests in numerous locations, including multiple cases of violent police action against rural protesters. Among such incidents were the following:
- In January 2011 in Bihar, a farmer was killed during protests against the Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project.
- In January 2011 in Chhattisgarh, 25 people were injured and over 100 imprisoned during protests against the KSK Mahanadi Power Project.
- In February 2011 in Andhra Pradesh, two people were killed and 25 injured during protests in Srikakulam against a plant proposed by East Coast Energy.
- In April 2011 in Jharkand, six people were killed and 21 injured during protests against over the clearing of land owned by Bharat Coking Coal Limited.
- In August 2011 in Punjab, a farmer was killed and others injured during protests against the Gobindpura power station.
- In October 2011 in Andhra Pradesh, villagers were attacked by police and a doctor leading the protests beaten during hearings on a coal plant in Ankulapaturu village.
- In November 2011 in Jharkhand, anti-coal organizer Sister Valsa John was hacked to death, allegedly by agents of local mining companies.
- In July 2013 in Jharkhand, police fired on a crowd protesting Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project at Pagar village, Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, killing protester Kesar Mahato.
Opponents have halted projects in 67% of locations with protest -- that's twice the expected attrition rate
In cases where opposition to coal plants has been reported, it appears that the opposition has had a high rate of success. As shown in Table 1 below, the results are as follows:
- Locations with one or more units cancelled - 33
- Locations with one or more units shelved - 4
- Total locations with units cancelled or shelved - 37
- Total number of plants with reported opposition - 55
- Success rate for opponents - 67%
For India as a whole since the beginning of 2010, the Global Coal Plant Tracker has identified 130 units shelved and 525 cancelled out of 1981 projects tracked, or approximately 33.1% shelved or cancelled. The result shows that when communities employ grassroots tactics to oppose coal plant proposals that threaten to encroach on their land, water, crops, or fisheries, their chances of seeing a coal plant shelved or cancelled increase compared to the country as a whole.
Table 1: Plants that have been the object of community opposition
|State||Plant||Reason for Opposition||Opposition Groups||Status (January 2018)|
|Andhra Pradesh||Ankulapatur power station phase 1||pollution concerns||Jana Vignana Vedika||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project||multiple||Phase I -Construction on Hold, Phase II - Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station||wildlife||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Gunipudi power station (NBPL proposal)||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Komarada power station||tribal land conflict, irrigation||Shelved|
|Andhra Pradesh||Nagarjuna Construction Company Sompeta Thermal Plant||agriculture, fisheries, wildlife||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Simhadri Power Station||Fly ash, fisheries||Operating|
|Andhra Pradesh||Sree Siva Satyadeva Power Plant||coastal impacts||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Srikakulam Thermal Power Station||coastal impacts, displacement||Left parties and farmers' associations||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Vizag Thermal Power Plant||land acquisition, coastal impacts||Operating|
|Bihar||Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project||land acquisition||Units 1-3 Construction|
|Chhattisgarh||Athena Chhattisgarh power station||multiple||LIFE, Jan Chetana||Shelved (Construction on hold)|
|Chhattisgarh||Baradarha power station||displacement, forests||Centre for Science and Environment||Operating|
|Chhattisgarh||Birra Thermal Power Project||displacement, impacts of multiple plants||Cancelled|
|Chhattisgarh||KSK Mahanadi Power Project||land acquisition, displacement||Unit 1-2 Operating; Units 3-6 Construction|
|Chhattisgarh||Moser Baer Captive Power Project||land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Chhattisgarh||Raikheda power station||pollution, displacement||Operating (two units), Cancelled (one unit)|
|Chhattisgarh||Tamnar II Project||pollution, displacement||Jan Chetna||Units 1-8 Operating|
|Gujarat||Bhadreshwar Thermal Power Project (Adani)||fisheries, impacts of multiple plants||MASS||Cancelled|
|Gujarat||Bhadreshwar power station (OPG)||fisheries, impacts of multiple plants||MASS||Operating|
|Gujarat||Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project||fisheries, agriculture, CDM||MASS, etc.||Units 1-5 Operating; Units 6-7 Cancelled|
|Jharkhand||Gola power station||displacement, hiring||Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), local villages||Construction|
|Jharkhand||Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project||agriculture, displacement, hiring||Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), local villages||Cancelled|
|Karnataka||Bellary Thermal Power Station||land acquisition||local farmers' association||Operating|
|Karnataka||Chamalapura power station||displacement||Chamalapura Ushnavidyut Sthavara Virodhi Horata Samithi||Cancelled|
|Karnataka||Gulbarga power station||land acquisition||Pre-permit development|
|Karnataka||Niddodi Ultra Mega Power Project||land acquisition, pollution||Indian Catholic Youth Movement, Mathra Bhoomi Samrakshana Samithi||Cancelled|
|Karnataka||Udupi power station||Fly ash||Permitted|
|Karnataka||Yeramarus and Yedlapur thermal stations||fly ash, impacts of multiple plants||Operating|
|Madhya Pradesh||Katni power station||displacement, land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Madhya Pradesh||Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project||Ex-Im Bank policy, CDM issues||Friends of the Earth||Units 1-6 Operating; Units 7-9 Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Bhandara power station||land acquisition||Rohana gram sabha and panchayat bodies||Shelved|
|Maharashtra||Dahanu Power Station||agriculture, fisheries||DPBS, INTACH, KVIC, DTEPA, DTEWA, Tamarind Tree||Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Dhopave Thermal Power Station (Mahagenco)||land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Girye Ultra Mega Power Project||land acquisition and displacement||Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Hari Hareshwar power station (Veshvi and Bankot)||agriculture, fisheries||Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Ratnagiri Power Plant expansion||agriculture, impacts of multiple plants||Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch||Cancelled|
|Odisha||Angul power station||forest destruction, agricultural land||Angul I (Units 1 and 2): Operating; Angul I (Unit 3): Operating; Angul II: Cancelled|
|Odisha||Angul Steel power station||forest destruction, displacement||NAPM / Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Samadrusti, Media Action Group, POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity||Operating|
|Odisha||Babandh power station||land, displacement||Phase I: Construction; Phase II: Cancelled|
|Odisha||Balangir power station||land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Odisha||JR Power Project||pollution of farmland, water competition||Cancelled|
|Odisha||Pitamahul power station||water competition||Water Initiatives Odisha||Cancelled|
|Punjab||Gidderbaha power station||land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Punjab||GNDTP Bathinda power station||air pollution and coal ash||Joint Action Committee||Cancelled|
|Punjab||Gobindpura power station||land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Punjab||Rajpura Thermal Power Project||lack of local hiring for construction||Phase I: Operating; Phase II: Cancelled|
|Punjab||Ropar thermal plant||air pollution, fly ash, agriculture||Cancelled|
|Rajasthan||JSW Barmer Jalipa Kapurdi power station||land acquisition and displacement||Krishijami Krishak O Khet Majoor Bachao Committee||Operating|
|Tamil Nadu||Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project||Announced|
|Tamil Nadu||Hanakon Thermal Power Project||Cancelled|
|Tamil Nadu||Talanchankadu power station||impacts on fisheries and agriculture||Nambiyar Nagar fishing habitation, Coastal Action Network||Cancelled|
|Uttar Pradesh||Karchana Thermal Power Project||land acquisition||Cancelled|
|Uttar Pradesh||Meja Thermal Power Project||land acquisition||Visthapit Virodhi Sanghrash Samiti, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha||Construction|
|West Bengal||Katwa Super Thermal Power Project (NTPC)||land acquisition||Shelved|
Opposition to coal mines
Opposition to coal mines has occurred at the following locations:
- Bhavnagar power station - Gujarat
- DB Power Dharamjaigarh mine - Chhattisgarh
- Proposed Mahaguj coal mine - Odisha
- Singrauli - Madhya Pradesh
Protests and actions
May 2018: 500 farmers arrested in Gujarat protests
Police arrested over 500 farmers protesting against the establishment of three proposed lignite mines to supply the part-built 500 MW Bhavnagar power station in Gujarat. An estimated 1000 people gathered to protest against Gujarat Power Corporation Limited’s (GPCL) occupation of 1415 hectares of land it bought before 2005 but which was subsequently reoccupied and farmed by displaced villagers. The farmers have launched legal action to have the land acquisition declared void due to GPCL’s delay in occupying the land. GPCL is proposing to acquire a further 1565 hectares once the plant is fully commissioned.
May 2017: Agitation over resettlement reduces mine output and closes coal plants
According to the New Indian Express, "frequent bandhs and agitations by locals" over the past two months had caused the daily production of eight open cast coal mines in Talcher to drop by 35 to 40 percent, causing the shutdown of Jindal's Angul power station (2 x 600 MW), the partial shutdown of one 350 MW unit at GMR Energy's Kamalanga power station, and an "equally critical" situation at the Jindal Steel and Power Plant and the Nalco captive power plant. Talcher Coalfield accounts for 60 percent of coal production of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), providing coal to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Tandu, West Bengal, and Maharashtra. According to the report, the basis for the unrest is unresolved displacement issues caused by mine expansions.
October 2016: Four killed, 40 injured at Jharkhand mine demonstration
Police fired on demonstrators protesting coal mining at Chirudih village near Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. According to an initial reports based on a police account, the incident resulted in four deaths among protesters as well as injuries to five villagers and seven policemen. (The Wire reported that the shootings resulted in six deaths but subsequently revised the death toll to four.) Protesters claimed that as many as 40 people had been injured. Among the injured were a superintendent of police and a circle officer. According to accounts by residents of Chirudih village, more than a thousand villagers were sleeping at the protest site when five companies of police and one company of the Rapid Action Force were deployed and began forcibly clearing the area. As more villagers arrived, the police first used tear gas and then live ammunition. According to police, gunfire was only used in self-defense. A spokesman from the Ekta Parishad resistance organization acknowledged that protesters had charged the police but said that there were no serious injuries to the police as a result. Among those arrested were Congress MLA Nirmala Devi. The events followed months of resistance against acquisition of agricultural land and forest areas for coal mining by NTPC, India's state-owned power company, including Chita Satyagraha (protesting on unlit funeral pyres). A report by Amnesty India described the police action as follows:
- On October 1, four people, including three teenagers, were killed and more than 40 persons injured when police personnel shot live ammunition following protests over the mine in the village of Darikalan. Some of the protestors had thrown stones at the policemen.
- The police said that they had been attacked by violent protestors, and had resorted to firing live ammunition only after giving adequate warning. However, eyewitnesses said that the firing began without any warning, and the police did not distinguish between protestors throwing stones and others. Eyewitnesses said that the four people killed were not involved in the protests. “They were even firing at people trying to retrieve the bodies,” said R Khatun, an eyewitness to the incident from the village of Darikalan.
- “Every single body we examined was shot above the waist and in the back, which shows that they were running away from police and not trying to attack them,” said Gopinath Ghosh and Alice Cherowa of Jharkhand Mine Areas Coordination Committee, a Ranchi-based organisation which examined the bodies of three of those killed. As of 21 October, the families of the victims were yet to receive copies of the post mortem reports.
- Local residents also say that the police had assaulted villagers in the days following the firing. Shazia from Cheppakalan village said that on 3 October, “The police came banging on our doors, shouting horrible abuses, saying that just you watch, you threw stones at our officers. Now this place will become a funeral pyre.”
- Four women from the village of Darikalan said that police forcibly entered their homes on 3 October and beat them with batons. “Women and elderly in my household were beaten, and 9 male family members were picked up and later released,” said Mohammed Rafique from Cheppakhurd village. “The whole village was empty for days, as people fled to their relatives’ houses in fear,” said Ilias Ansari of the Karanpura Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, a local peoples’ movement against the mine.
- The Superintendent of Police from Hazaribagh, when interviewed on 3 October, said, “Senior officials, including the additional district magistrate, are leading the troops into villages, and I don’t expect them to behave irresponsibly. Arrests are being made in connection with atrocities committed against the police.”
- “Jharkhand authorities must look into allegations that the police used unnecessary and excessive force during the protests, and assaulted villagers later,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar.
August 2016: Two killed, 40 injured at plant protests in Jharkhand's Ramgarh district
Two people were killed and 40 injured when police fired on protests in Gola, approximately 53 km from Ranchi in Jharkhand's Ramgarh district. The villagers were protesting the Gola power station, which is currently under construction. The shooting followed a policy confrontation with a crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 plant protesters, who were demanding compensation and jobs for the land acquired by Inland Power for the coal plant..
July 2016: Farmers refuse to surrender land for Srikakulam Thermal Power Station
Villagers in Thotada, Rallapalli, and Susaram have opposed the proposed 4000 MW Srikakulam Thermal Power Station on the basis that the government does not actually possess the 1,300 acres that it claims to have available for the project. CPI and CPI(M) leaders say that the land must remain in the status of cultivation under the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act-2014. “We don’t agree with the argument of the Government. The left parties will continue to extend their cooperation to this agitation. We will not allow acquisition of fertile lands,” said CPI(M) Srikakulam secretary Bhaviri Krishnamurthy. In July 2016 it was reported that difficulties with acquiring land in Polaki were "causing embarrassment" to officials, who had promised the land to Sumitomo Company for the project. After initially believing it owned the 1,300 of the acres needed for the project, it turned out that the land had been under occupation for many decades. Left parties and representatives of farmers' associations accused the government of trying to intimidate opponents of the plant by deploying a heavy police presence. CPI Srikakulam officials vowed to support the opponents of the plant and demanded that cases filed against local leaders be withdrawn. “The government is trying to convert Srikakulam into a dumping yard by proposing thermal and atomic power plants. Such activities will only lead to displacement of thousands of people,” said CPI Srikakulam wing secretary Chapara Venkata Ramana.
March 2014: Farmers protest at the Meja Thermal Power Project (Uttar Pradesh)
In March 2014, farmers and police clashed during a protest at the Meja Thermal Power station. Farmers claimed that many had been displaced because of land acquired for the constructing the plant. It was reported that farmers threw stones at police during the protest, which involved villagers from Salaiya Kalan.
October 2013: Fishermen challenge Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project at Green Tribunal
It has been reported that, "Fishermen in Panaiyur Periakuppam village, where the captive coal jetty for the plant would be situated, fear that the project would completely destroy their livelihood. A port is expected to come up between the village and its neighbouring hamlet occupying shorefront of 650 meters. The coal stockyard will hold 310,000 tonnes of coal and would be built on an 83-acre land. The villagers have challenged the clearance given to the coal jetty in the National Green Tribunal and say they would do the same for the power project. Interestingly, the plant and coal jetty are proposed to be set up 6 km apart."
July and September 2013: Villagers protest the Niddodi Ultra Mega Power Project
In July 2013, 2,000 people from 10 villages gathered for a one-day hunger strike to protest the Niddodi Ultra Mega Power Project. The villagers fear their land will be lost or affected by the pollution from the plant.
In September 2013, a thousand people associated with the Indian Catholic Youth Movement protested the proposed Niddodi Ultra Mega Power Project citing concerns over land and environmental issues.
July 2013: Protester killed in protest against Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project in Jharkhand
In May 2012 it was reported that "20 villages in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand called a maha-panchayat and resolved not to let Reliance Power mine coal from Kerendari B and C blocks for its 4,000 MW power plant." The coal mine, which will source coal for the Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project, will not only displace an entire village, it will also impact the fertile agricultural land in the nearby villages. According to a letter of complaint by the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), police fired on protesters on July 23, 2013 at Pagar village, Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, killing protester Kesar Mahato and causing several injuries. JHRM asked Satyabrata Pal, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, to investigate and take action in response to the incident.
May 2013: 50 Adivisi farmers detained in protest against Godda Project in Jharkhand
In May 2013, more than 50 Adivasi farmers, including women, were detained for over six hours by polce in Godda. The farmers from 11 villages said that they were opposed to land acquisition for Jindal Steel & Power's 1320 MW Godda Project. Protester Hopanmai Marandi told reporters, "My family lives at Seemaldhap village in Chota Amarpur. More than 200 of us had gathered at Tiril Tola over the last two days because we planned to march to the venue but the police arrested us. I had rice with me for my little daughter but the police kept that away too." Protester Mary Nisha Hasda said, "We were already displaced when the Sunder Dam was built. We will not allow ourselves to be moved from our land again."
November 2012: Woman immolates herself in protest against land acquisition for Katni power station in Madhya Pradesh
In November 2012, NDTV reported that twenty farmers in Bujbuja village sit every day on funeral pyres with kerosene and match sticks at arm's reach to protest acquisition of land for the Katni power station. On Diwali, Katni district villager Sunia Bai died one day after she set herself on fire on Diwali day, in protest over land acquisition for the plant. Following the self-immolation, police responded to a protest by residents of Bujbuja and Dakaria villages with a lathicharge, seizing the body. According to villagers, the police had threatened to bulldoze the home of Sunia Bai and her husband Chhaka Gadari. In addition, police arrested 12 villagers as well as former Janata Dal (United) MLA Saroj Bachchan Nayak. Protesters demanded that land acquired for the project be returned to farmers. Farmers also built funeral pyres on their land and warmed that they would immolate themselves if forcibly evicted. A second villager threatened with eviction, Pyare Lai Choudhary, was admitted to the hospital after drinking poison in a suicide attempt.
November 2012: Farmers in Karnataka hold plant staff hostage over land acquisition grievances at Bellary Thermal Power Station
In November 2012, a local association representing farmers living in the vicinity of the Bellary Thermal Power Station staged protests to publicize grievances over land acquisition. According to the protesters, more than 1,000 acres of land belonging to 350 families had been acquired for the plant, but the plant had not fulfilled a promise to provide employment to those families who had lost land, with only 150 persons receiving employment. More than six buses carrying over 150 staff from the Bellary Thermal Station were stopped by local famers, who confined them in a school playground in order to pressure authorities to accept their demands. The protest ended after Karnataka Power Corporation officials and local officials met with the farmers and provided assurances that their demands would be taken up.
October 2012: Villager protest the Dhopave Thermal Power Station (Mahagenco)
It was reported in October 2012 that villagers in Dhopave sprung into action to protest land acquisition after realizing the dangerous effects of coal ash and hot water on their local ecosystem. The villagers adopted various means of protest, "ensuring the state revenue department and other officials could not enter the village for any survey by laying down on the roads. Mahagenco currently has been denied permissions to set up based on environmental grounds."
August 2012: At least three thousand villagers protest the Pitamohul power station in Odisha
According to multiple press reports, at least three thousand villagers joined a protest rally in August 2012 organized by Water Initiatives Odisha. The farmers expressed concern that the proposed Pitamohul power station would divert scarce water resources needed for irrigation as well as polluting the remaining water in the Mahanadi river. Organizer Ranjan Panda of Water Initiatives Odisha said, "We strongly oppose such a move and urge upon the government to scrap such a polluting project."
June 2012: Ongoing opposition against proposed Bhandara power station (Maharashtra)
In 2011 residents of Rohana village began a series of protests against the manner in which Bhandara Thermal was acquiring land in the village. The land under consideration was valuable irrigated farmland providing three paddy crops year. Yet farmers alleged that the company had acquired nearly 600 ha of the land for only Rs 8 lakh per acre (0.4 ha), far below its value, and that no meeting or public hearing was held by the company in the area, and the gram sabha and panchayat bodies were not taken into confidence while initiating the acquisition process. The Rohana gram sabha and panchayat bodies had registered repeated complaints with the district collector regarding what they said was an illegal land acquisition process, but no action was taken. 
June 2012: Fishermen protest near Simhadri Power Station turns violent (Andhra Pradesh)
In June 2012, it was reported that more than 10 fishermen and others were injured during a protest near the Simhadri Power Station as the group staged a demonstration against pollution caused by the thermal station, while seeking retribution settlements. The Hindu reported that "The demonstration turned violent as the fishermen started throwing stones at the Central Industrial Security Force personnel, according to sources. Then, the CISF opened several rounds of fire in the air to quell the mob at the project site. Fishermen from the nearby villages tried to stall pipeline-laying work for the seawater pump house project for second phase of NTPC Simhadri thermal project."
June 2012: Villagers protesting Komarada power station (Andhra Pradesh) detail police personnel following demonstration and arrests
On June 9, 2012, hundreds of villagers rallied at Kotipam village in Komarada mandal to obstruct the fencing works for the proposed Komarada power station. In response, about 200 police personnel arrived and made preventative arrests of several party leaders. In retaliation, villagers detained police personnel for hours before release them. Locals opposing the plant said that the project falls in a tribal sub-plan area. In addition, the project overlaps the irrigation area of the Vanakabaadi Gedda reservoir.
June 2012, Farmers arrested protesting the Moser Baer Captive Power Project
In June 2012 farmers opposing the Moser Baer Captive Power Project were arrested in the Anuppur district of MP. The farmers were protesting what they saw as unfair acquisition of their lands for the development of the plant.
May 22, 2012: Hazaribagh villages up against Reliance Power and the Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project
In May 2012 it was reported that "20 villages in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand called a maha-panchayat and resolved not to let Reliance Power mine coal from Kerendari B and C blocks for its 4,000 MW power plant." The coal mine, which will source coal for the Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project, will not only displace an entire village, it will also impact the fertile agricultural land in the nearby villages.
February 2012: Opponents of Bhadreshwar power station (OPG) (Gujarat) prevail at National Green Tribunal
On February 8, 2012, the National Green Tribunal, a body created in 2010 to handle cases relating to environmental protection, directed that no construction activity should take place with respect to the plant until all approvals are obtained by the OPG Power Ventures, the sponsor of the project. Construction had begun at the site without the necessary approvals under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and CRZ clearance. The construction had been challenged at the National Green Tribunal by fisherfolk, salpan workers, and local villagers. The halting of the project was an unusual event. According to Prayas Energy Group, "It is extremely rare for a thermal power plant (TPP) to have its environmental clearance rejected. In fact, not a single thermal power plant has been denied clearance by the MoEF from 2006 to July 2010...." The order of the National Green Tribunal can be found here. The order to stop construction of the plant attacted nationwide media attention, including the following stories:
- "Green Tribunal flags rad for OPG's power plant," Indian Express, February 15, 2012
- Piyali Mandal, "Green setback for OPG Power plant," Business Standard, February 15, 2012
- "Green tribunal stops Gujarat power project," Hindustan Times, February 14, 2012
- Gujarat News story, February 14, 2012 (in Gujarati)
- Kutch Mitra Daily story, (in Gujarati)
- "Stop OPG's power plant work at Mudra untill it gets environmental clearance: National Green Tribunal," The Economic Times, February 15, 2012
- "Stop OPG's power plant work at Mudra, Gujarat: Green Tribunal," Deccan Chronicle, February 16, 2012
January 2012: Thousands block railways and roads to JR Power Project in Odisha
On January 6, 2012, thousands blocked rail and road communication to the proposed 1980 MW JR Power Project, the latest protest in two years of opposition to the plant. The demonstrators said the plant would be constructed at the site of a proposed irrigation project, disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and others in need of the water and land, as the water will instead go to the power plant. They also cited concerns with polluting the fertile farmland.
January 2012: Citizen groups denounce attacks on protesters at Angul Steel power station (Odisha)
A coalition of groups released the following statement after security guards attacked demonstrators:
- On 25th January 2012 just before the Republic Day, 4000 unarmed, displaced people including women went to company gate to demand their right to livelihood and life with dignity. But in the presence of police, they were attacked physically by the security guards of Jindal company without any provocation. The security force used lathis and iron rods by which people are being beaten mercilessly. Women were attacked in such a inhuman way, that their clothes were torn and they were being injured severely from tip to toe. More than 200 persons became seriously injured and admitted in the Angul district Hospital and some of them were shifted to SCB medical college, Cuttack, without any assistance or help of the government. Many injured women are not in the hospital being feared. Now they are in their homes without medical treatments. Six days already passed but no justice is given to the victims. Now thousands of people have been demonstrating before company gate, they are not allowing for any construction work. In the local police station, F.I.R was lodged against CEO of the company, but no executive officer was arrested till now except the security officer.
July 2011: Citizens protest development of Angul power station
In July 2011 it was reported that "hundreds of locals of about 15 villages of Kishore Nagar block demonstrated before the block development officer." Protesters demanded the project be immediately canceled, claiming the plant would force locals to lose vital agricultural and forest land.
December 2011: Villagers blockage Vizag Thermal Power Plant in Andhra Pradesh
In December 2011, members of 32 villages affected by the Vizag Thermal Power Plant sponsored by Hinduja National Power Corporation blockaded the main entrance to the plant. The protesters demanded employment for local workers as well as compensation for the 623 acres acquired for the project. After assurances by governmental and company officials that a meeting would be convened in 15 days to resolved the issues, the protest dispersed. 
December 2011: 8,000 - 10,000 villagers opposing Machhakata coal mine set fires, ransack meeting venue, block road in Odisha
On December 8, 2011, villagers stormed, ransacked, and set fire to the venue of a public hearing on Machhakata coal mine, which will affect 9 villages. Villagers then marched to the Chhendipara (Chhendipada) tehsil office and blocked the Chhendipara road, demanding that the project be canceled. After administrative officials agreed to cancel the hearing, the demonstrators agreed to lift the blockade. According to one report, MLA Kageswar Behera was beaten by angry villagers. According to another report, Behera denied being assaulted and maintained that he aopposed the project. At least one news reporter was seriously injured by the mob. The Machhakata mine is sponsored by Mahaguj Collieries Ltd, a joint project of Maharashtra State Power Generation Company and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation. The project will be developed and operated by Adani Mining Private Ltd. According to one report, about 8,000 people were involved in the unrest. Another estimate placed the number at 10,000.
December 2011: Talanchankadu power station Scrapped After Large Protests
In December 2011, Business Standard reported that NSL Power had scrapped the project due to "local protests" and "stiff opposition from local villagers" and would instead pursue development in Odisha. According to the report, at the time it was cancelled the project had already acquired more than half of the 1300 acres that it required and had also secured a coal agreement from Mahandi Coal Fields. The coal would have shipped via Paradip port to Vangiri in Tamil Nadu, where the cmpany had plans to build a captive jetty. Among the protests, it was reported that 1200 people from about 56 villages of Nagapattinam and Karaikal participated in a demonstration against the project that included a mass walkout from the public hearing held on March 4, 2010. It was also reported that "fisherfolk from Arcotthurai upto Palayar abstained from venturing into the sea from Sunday night to Monday evening. The demonstration was led by the Nambiyar Nagar fishing habitation." Another group organizing protests was Coastal Action Network.
November 2011: Activist nun who fought Indian mining companies brutally murdered in Jharkhand
In mid-November 2011 Sister Valsa John, an anti-coal activist in India, was killed in her village of Pachwara, a small community in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. She was allegedly killed by individuals hired by coal mining companies. The individuals beat and hacked her to death. Sister Valsa was 52 and took her vows was a member of Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary. It was reported that on numerous occasions she had gone to the police after threats where made on her life. The following was written in the Globe and Mail following her death:
- "She was one of the remarkable breed of Indian religious figures who are grassroots social activists, who immerse themselves in the most marginalized and impoverished communities and work on literacy, basic health care and human rights. Sister Valsa said she did Jesus’s work by teaching the aboriginal people – known in India as adivasi or 'tribals' – about their rights to their land."
On November 20, 2011 seven residents of Pachwara and adjoining Aloopara village, were arrested for the killing of Sister Valsa John. The Sister's family in the India region of Kerala had alleged she faced death threats from the "mining mafia" in the area and was killed because of her campaign against the Panam Coal Company. However, police alleged that that locals were responsible for her death instead.
Prior to being killed, Sister Valsa John stood up for a rape victim in her community and a police report filed for the case. The alleged rapist, arrested days after the murder and later charged with that too, reportedly told the police that Sister Valsa was “an agent” of a private mining company.
October 2011: Protesters injured during public hearing in Ankulapaturu village in Andhra Pradesh
On Oct. 3, 2011, hundreds of villagers led by Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) and its affiliated unions protested an environmental public hearing by the Pollution Control Board (PCB) regarding the 350 MW Ankulapatur power station phase 1 at Ankulapaturu village in Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district.
The public hearing was for land acquisition for the power project. Disagreement broke out between those in attendance, and protesters say they were then attacked and beaten by police, with several protestors suffering injuries. The Joint Collector Saurabh Gaur walked away without giving any orders either to the police to withdraw nor giving any declaration regarding the status of the public hearing.
The proposed plant, sponsored by VSF Projects, will use 1,200 acres near Ankulapaturu village of Chillakur mandal in Gudur division in the district. Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) district secretary Ellanki Venkateswarlu said locals in Ankulapaturu and the neighbouring villages were opposing the plant, as existing power projects in the area are already creating health hazards.
At the hearing, project opponent Vijayakumar, was beaten by police. Vijayakumar is a doctor and an activist with Jana Vigyana Vedika a people's science organisation. An charge of attempted murder was registered against inspector Ram Babu under section 307 of the IPC. Opponents of the plant charged that the environmental impact assessment prepared by the company suppressed the impacts of the plant on the ten surrounding villages, which are mostly inhabited by landless Scheduled Tribe (ST) or small farmers belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), and that the plant will be located in the middle of a wetland surrounded by shrimp farms. According to one local leader, about 700 people walked seven to eight kilometres to participate in the hearing after their tractors were blocked by police. At the hearing, sponsored by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, participation was limited to 20-30 people who allegedly were hired by the company to speak. After Vijayakumar asked those opposing the project to raise their hands, police began lathicharging, and Vijayakumar was allegedly strangled by company goons before being rescued by supporters.
September 2011: Public hearing erupts into chaos (Chhattisgarh)
The Birra Thermal Power Project is in the Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh, an agricultural area where the state government has signed memoranda of understanding for 34 new thermal power plants totalling 34,000 MW, almost one-fourth of India's current thermal power capacity. Although the area lacks coal, it became a focal point for developers after neighboring Korba was listed as the fifth most polluted among the Critically Polluted Areas of India in 2009, leading the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to impose a moratorium on further environmental clearances. In an article entitled "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Prakhar Jain describes the following scene at a hearing to consider the Birra project:
- As loudspeakers announced the conclusion of the public hearing, the mob started hurling abuses. Company executives ran for their lives. A 100-strong contingent of sleepy policemen, watching the proceedings till then with disinterest, suddenly swung into action to ensure the safety of officials. The scene occurred at Birra village in the nondescript Janjgir-Champa district in Chhattisgarh on 22 September. The occasion was a public hearing for a 1,320 MW power plant proposed by Moser Baer. More than 1,000 people listened as one by one, the aggrieved presented their views. The crowd cheered when Puri Bai from Siladeh screamed that she won’t give her land at any cost. “Where would we and our children go?” she asked.
September 2011: Greenpeace calls for moratorium on new coal projects in Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh)
After releasing the 2011 report, "Singrauli: The Coal Curse," Greenpeace called for a moratorium on new coal mining activities in the Singrauli region, based on the findings of a Greenpeace team in the region that the projects "deprive the livelihood of displaced people and ruin their health." According to Priya Pillai, the communities are living in an atmosphere which is full of coal dust: "The people gave up their land for power that doesn't reach them."
In Singrauli, the Mahan, Chhatrasal, Amelia and Dongri Tal II forest blocks, which were earlier categorised as 'no go', are awaiting approval for coal mining from the government. Officially, 5,872.18 hectares of forest in the Singrauli region had been marked for non-forest use after the Forest Conservation Act came into force in 1980. According to the divisional forest officer of Singrauli, another 3,229 hectares have been proposed for such activities.
Singrauli is all set to become the country's "power capital" with a number of power plants coming up in Madhya Pradesh, apart from the nine open cast coal mines which are going to start production by 2014. The combined investment of all these projects is estimated to be over Rs 1 lakh crore.
September 2011: Moving Planet day of action
On September 24, an Indian delegation and US mountaintop removal activists will take part in "Moving Planet" day in support of fossil fuel-alternative energy, in West Virginia and India. The India delegation is calling on the World Bank to follow through with its proposal to dramatically cut funding for coal-burning power stations.
August 2011: Residents surrounding GNDTP Bathinda force shutdown of plant (Punjab)
Residents of Bathinda have been fighting the GNDTP Bathinda power station for the past decade because of the large amount of ash and other pollution it emits. Residents created a Joint Action Committee (JAC) to fight coal ash pollution created by the plant. M M Behal, convener of the JAC of Bathinda, said "It seems the state government is not serious about pollution caused by the thermal plants in Bathinda... Earlier we were facing the problem of high level of fly ash and coal smoke, but after National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning found traces of radioactive thorium and uranium in the fly ash lying at a thermal plant in Maharashtra, out worries have increased manifold. We are planning to approach the high court once again," said Behal. Bathinda residents contacted the Human Rights Commission to ask for protection from the pollution. In addition, the JAC filed a petition in Punjab and Haryana high court. These efforts resulted in a ruling that forced the Bathinda plant to modernize three of the four units by June 30, 2011. However, Behal said the work has not been completed as of August 2011.
On August 22, 2011, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced plans to shut down the Bathinda power plant. The Tribune reports "The thermal plant set up 37 years ago is to be dismantled as it has outlived its utility." Despite some renovations, the plant will be completely dismantled. "The thermal plant has been running without electrostatic precipitators that arrest the flow of ash from the chimneys, resulting in a thick layer of ash in houses." MM Behal said the Punjab government failed to meet its commitment of taking steps towards controlling air pollution by June 2010. A local eye specialist and medical doctor have stated that ailments related to pollution, such as eye diseases and respiratory illnesses among children, have increased.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Capt Amarinder Singh has publicly stated his opposition to the Bathinda plant closure. He states that the state of Punjab is already experiencing a shortage of electricity, and to close another plant will create an even larger shortage. he wants the Bathinda plant to make the necessary restorations and reopen.
August 2011: Farmer killed in demonstration against Gobindpura power station in Punjab
A farmer was killed and others sustained injuries when police lathi-charged a larger group of farmers who were protesting the acquisition of land for the 1320 MW Gobindpura thermal station in Mansa district of Punjab. According to one report 10 farmers and 5 policemen were also injured. According to another report, 30 farmers were injured. Nearly 50 vehicles were also damaged in the police action. The farmer, 65-year-old Surjit Singh of Hamidi village in Barnala district, sustained severe injuries during the lathi charge and his body was later found in a field. On August 3, thousands of people attended the last rites of Surjit Singh Hameedi, and MPs speaking at the ceremony demanded a judicial probe into the land acquisition as well as a probe into the killing. Jhanda Singh Jaithokey senior VP of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), charged the government of Dhief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with receiving kickbacks from the company acquiring land for the plant. On October 14, over 200 farmers were arrested while heading from Joga village toward the power project site, following a call to protest given by 17 farmers' unions.
August 2011: Farmers in Punjab start chain hunger strike against Gidderbaha power station
The Gidderbaha power station is a partially approved 2,640 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Ghagga village, Muktsar District, Punjab, India. The National Thermal Power Corporation has delayed construction for over a year because it has yet to obtain statutory clearances from the power ministry, pollution control board, and establish a coal linkage. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir has said the state government may elect to sign an agreement with a private company to develop the site if NTPC does not begin work soon. In early 2010, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) made an unprecedented decision to allow the National Thermal Power Corporation to sell 30% of its power to reduce power costs. PSEB has refused similar rights to other companies in the past.
The Punjab government has also been careful in acquiring 2,316 acres of agricultural land from local farmers. Land acquisition in Gobindpura "led to lot of hue and cry by farmers resulting in politicisation of the issue by the opposition Congress." Farmers in Theri, Babania, and Ghagga villages who would have to sell their land at state fixed prices have started "a chain hunger strike on the roadside demanding that higher compensation be fixed for fertile land." The government has currently set pricing at Rs 25 lakhs per acre.
June 2011: "We have no option but to beg for our lands, but begging is also a crime" (Uttar Pradesh)
In June 2011, farmers protested Karchana Thermal Power Project near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh by staging a mass public begging, to dramatize that if the plant is built they will have no option other than begging. In footage broadcast by CVB News Service, Raj Bahadur Patel, a leader of the farmers, said, "The government acquired our lands without following the policy of land acquisition. We have been protesting for 300 days. The administration has said they will not do anything in the matter. We have appealed to the government to give us our lands as they are our source of livelihood. The farmers along with their families participated in the flag march today." Another leader, Arvind Patel, said, "We have no option but to beg for our lands, but this government says that begging is also a crime.
It was reported in February 2011 that villagers ransacked and damaged property at the site for the Karchana Thermal Power Project. The protesters had reportedly inflicted damage worth Rs 1 crore.
June 2011: Protesters block railway to protest coal transportation to Udupi power station (Karnataka)
On June 1, 2011, activists with the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) blocked the Mangalore-Mumbai Matsyagandha Express train for 10 minutes in Nandikoor, Karnataka. The purpose of the protest was to show opposition to the transportation of coal by railway from the New Mangalore Port to the Udupi power station. According to the activists, a condition for the environmental clearance granted to the plant was that coal would be transported through a closed conveyer system. Transportation in open railroad cars was producing damage to crops, agricultural land, drinking water, and public health, according to the activists. Local resident Sundari Shetti complained, “The house is always coated with a thick layer of ash. I have difficulty in breathing and the constant drone of Lorries transporting fly ash way into the midnight has affected my health.” Village panchayat president Sunil Raj Shetty said that no permission had been sought from the local administration before giving the ash pond the green signal. He said, “It used to be a fresh water lake - the Daddikere Lake.”
May 2011: Mango farmers protest coal plants in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district
Farmers marched to protest coal plants in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, in an area known as the Konkan Coast. The protests were organized by the Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch, an organization leading a campaign against seven thermal power plants proposed for the district. In Pawas, Ratnagiri district, villagers protested with a hunger strike. In July 2011, JSW Energy - an Indian power producer controlled by the billionaire Jindal family - delayed the 3,200 MW expansion Ratnagiri Power Plant as it waited for coal-pricing “clarity” from Indonesia and Australia.
May 2011: Amnesty International takes up cases of activists imprisoned in Chhattisgarh
On May 28, 2011, two indigenous rights activists, Ramesh Agrawal and Dr Harihar Patel, were arrested in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh and denied release on bail.
The state police charged the two men with “circulating defamatory material”, “disrupting public order” and “causing alarm and panic among the public” at a May 8, 2010 mandatory public consultation, held by the state pollution board at Tamnar village, relating to the Tamnar II Project proposed by Jindal Steel and Power.
Agrawal and Patel expressed concerns that the expansion would lead to the forcible acquisition of lands from the surrounding local communities by the authorities. The two activists had objected to the proposal and cited an official inspection report which stated that the expansion began before the mandatory clearances were given. Ramesh Agrawal also successfully petitioned India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests to temporarily suspend the terms of reference for the expansion. Following a complaint relating to the delay, the state authorities decided to arrest the two activists.
Ramesh Agrawal works for the environmental rights organization Jan Chetna, and Dr Harihar Patel practices indigenous medicine. They had been actively campaigning against the pollution caused by existing industrial projects, including coal plants, and the potential negative environmental impact of proposed industrial projects in central Chhattisgarh. The two activists have been at the forefront of the campaign for the public disclosure of information relating to projects which affect local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities and for ensuring that these are available to the communities. Their arrest, Amnesty International believes, is intended to stop their peaceful campaign activities.
The two activists were sent to Raigarh prison until June 3, 2011, and a local court rejected their appeals for release on bail on June 2. Ramesh Agrawal, who complained of hypertension, was taken for treatment at a government-run hospital where he is being kept chained to his bed.
May 2011: MASS protests Mundra Ultra Mega (Gujarat)
In May 2011, a group known as Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) filed a collective protest against the Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project, saying there are high risks to the project without proper mitigation and accountability measures. The protest is targeted against the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, whose financing of high-risk coal plants in India faces community resistance. Its Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) has accepted a complaint against the Plant in Mundra, Gujarat. CAO is the independent body of IFC that handles disputes and compliance issues with its investments.
MASS says the plant is located in the special economic zone (SEZ) that cuts across fishing grounds, habitat of diverse marine lives and wide expanse of farm land, and that the project’s social impact assessment is significantly flawed, as fishing communities were excluded from the list of those directly impacted and IFC green lighted the loan without a cumulative impact assessment.
With a total project cost of US$ 4.14 billion, the IFC is investing a $450 million loan and $50 million in equity. Other financial institutions funding the project are the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Asian Development Bank, India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd., Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd., Oriental Bank of Commerce, Vijaya Bank, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, the State Bank of Indore and other local banks.
The MASS complaint came two months after villagers in Odisha state formally challenged IFC’s funding for the GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited.
April 2011: Villagers at Kakrapalli village in Andhra Pradesh mark 238 days of relay hunger strike
According to a report by the environmental television feature program Save India's Coast, villagers at Kakrapalli were continuing a relay hunger strike in order to raise pressure on governmental officials to finally cancel the Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project. The broadcast showed footage of houses damaged by smoke bombs during the police attack on town of Kakrapalli.
April 2011: Six killed in protests against anti-encroachment drive in Jharkand
The state of Jharkhand is home to one of the largest Adivasi (tribal) populations in India. It is also the location of an estimated 40% of the country’s deposits of coal, iron ore, uranium and other minerals. Jharkhand’s Adivasis have farmed and hunted on the land for millennia, but do not hold title deeds, but as the original inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent, Adivasis have ancient land rights protected by law. They are, however, being forced to leave their ancestral lands to make way for new mines, steel mills and hydroelectric projects, with little or no compensation.
Following resistance by local residents against house demolitions at Matkoria, four people were killed in clashes with police attempting to clear land owned by Bharat Coking Coal Limited. In addition, 21 people were injured and 27 arrested. Later, the overall death toll rose to six, with two killed in Dhanbad and two killed at Islam Nagar in Ranchi on April 5. Among the arrested were former ministers Bacha Singh and OP lal, Congress MLA Manan Mallick, and deputy mayor Niraj Singh. A curfew was imposed on Dhanbad town. Among those killed in the fighting was Vikash Kuman, an auto driver. Another fatality was that of Sanjay Paswan.The protesters blocked National Highway 32 between Dhanbad and Bokaro for several hours. Police used lathis and teargas to disperse protesters. A Mob set fire to offices of Bharat Coking Coal Limited at Kunsunda and Godhar. Protesters also set on fire a police check post in Matkuriya as well as three police vehicles. Nine people were reported in critical condition with bullet wounds. Among the injured were a half dozen members of the media, including four camera men. Most of those being subjected to the anti-encroachment drive had settled in the area 80 years earlier.
February 2011: Two killed, 25 injured in Andhra Pradesh
On February 28, 2011, in a set of clashes sparked by construction of the Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project by East Coast Energy, police in Srikakulam fired into villagers, killing two people and injuring nearly 25 others. The plant at the center of the violence was in the same district as the coal plant where two people were killed the previous July 2010, protesting the Nagarjuna Construction Company Sompeta Thermal Plant. The dead were identified as Sirapu Yerraiah (36) of Sirapuvani Peta and J. Nageswara Rao (35) of Akashalakkavaram. At least two of the injured were hit at close range with rubber bullets. Police used guns, teargas, and lathis against villagers, who used stones and sticks. After police threw smoke bombs in Vadditandra village, 50 houses were gutted. A police jeep was burned by villagers.
February 2011: Vocal opposition to DB Power coal mine and plant in Chhattisgarh
At a February 28, 2011 public hearing on the mine, 438 people spoke, none of them in support of the project. After public protest against the proposed mine, DB Power submitted an affidavit pledging not to conduct any mining operations in nagar panchayat land. A supplementary letter filed at the Feb. 2011 public hearing promised to re-site any proposed water tanks and coal piles from nagar panchayat land to the remaining leased area. Four villages, however, would still lose their lands. According to activist Ramesh Agarwal: “If the company is really giving up 350 acres of land, it should submit a new EIA report,” saying that the existing report was meaningless as giving up 350 acres of urban land would alter the mining plan of the project. The Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research group, criticised the report for not providing information on the mine’s impact on surface and groundwater sources, forests and fauna: “Almost 40 per cent of land in the project area is covered under forests …There are 11 reserved and 2 protected forests within 10 km radius."
January 2011: Villagers protest the Rajpura Thermal Power Project
In January 2011, unemployed villagers living near the Rajpura plant, many of whom were former farmers, conducted a dharna (peaceful protest or demonstration) outside the plant. Rajinder Singh, a local, said the government "forcefully purchased our land at a very low price”. Others claimed the government "promised to employ maximum number of people from surrounding villages", only to hire 100 people from local villages and bring in other workers from out of state. The government bought 1,078 acres of fertile land from area villagers to construct the plant, and farmers remain unemployed more than a year after construction started. Another local said “the government had made tall claims of project making our lives better, whereas we have become redundant without any sound livelihood”. Nabha Power Limited has said it will hire more people from surrounding villages.
January 2011: Protest over land acquisition at the Karchana Thermal Power Project injures police officers
In late January 2011 a protest was initiated by local farmers of Kachari in the Karchan area of Uttar Pradesh over a land acquisition dispute regarding the Karchana Thermal Power Project. The farmers were demanding to be paid a fair market value for their land. During this protest it was reported that "three policemen were injured, two police vehicles set ablaze and the Delhi-Howrah trunk route was blocked for 13 hours." It was the culmination of protests that had been ongoing for four months.
January 2011: 25 people injured in Chhattisgarh protests
On January 17, 2011, at least 25 people were injured and over a hundred were taken into custody during protests by farmers against land acquisition by KSK Energy Ventures Limited, sponsors of the 3,600 MW KSK Mahanadi Power Project at Nariyara village in the Akaltara district of Chhattisgarh, about 170 km from the state capital Raipur. At issue in the protests is the prime quality of the agricultural land being made available for an estimated 40,000 MW of power plants planned for the Janjgir-Champa district. State Congress president Dhanendra Sahu told reporters, "It's a foolish decision, Janjgir-Champa has highly productive farm land and also has access to irrigation facilities. This is a conspiracy by the state government to hand over farmers' prime land to industries."
January 2011: Farmer killed in Bihar protest
In January 2011, a farmer involved in protests against the Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project under construction in the Aurangabad district of Bihar was reportedly killed. According to the a report in The Times of India, the death occurred during "violent agitation" during which farmers "stoned a speeding train and clashed with police." Also in January 2011, Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Qaiser condemned the lathicharge and tear-gassing of farmers demonstrating for adequate compensation for land, formed a four-member committee to inquire into the incident, and demanded the unconditional release of farmers held in custody.
October 2010: Fisherfolk and salt pan workers rally against Adani Project (Gujarat)
On October 6, 2010, fisherfolk and salt pan workers in Kutch district spoke out in opposition to the Bhadreshwar Thermal Power Project (Adani), expressing concerns about the open cycle once-through cooling system due to the impacts of thermal pollution on marine ecology. According to the Bhadreshwar fishing community trade union, local communities in the vicinity of other coal plants on the Kutch coast have suffered from coal dust and fly ash especially during summer months due to arid conditions and the direction of wind towards land. Concerns include the effect of air pollution on fish drying and salt production, as well as on the famous Jain Vasai teerth, a pilgrimage destination for members of the Jain religion. Residents note that over 1,000 families are dependant on traditional fishing, and that the cumulative effects of multiple power plants have not been adequately considered. The trade union notes that the Adani Foundation has offered a compensation package to the fishing community but that the amount of the package (Rs.4 Crores) is a "lollipop," especially compared to the Rs.20 Crores of annula revenue from fishing on the Bhadreshwar coast.
September 2010: Farmers allege brutality at hearing on Vidarbha thermal power station (Maharashtra)
A court petition filed by four farmers against the Environmental Clearance challenged the validity of the hearing that took place on September 17, 2010. According to the court documents, about 5,000 villagers attended the hearing, which "was vitiated by ruckus since the Regional Officer, MPCB did not hear all the villagers ... the respondents used muscle power against the poor villagers; the Police Officers present at the hearing openly threatened the villagers and directed not to speak against the project ... the public hearing was abruptly closed after goons hired by the respondents created ruckus and villagers were brutally beaten." The company denied the allegations. In response to the petition, the court ordered a new hearing, which took place in June 2012. According to an account in The Times of India, the new hearing was "stage-managed, with only families of those employed by the plant saying yes" to the project. Manoj Manwatkar, son of one of the petitioners, complained, "This is an eye wash as 30% of the project has been completed. Work should be stopped till the Supreme Court decides the petition to cancel environment clearance filed by four affected farmers from Pulai. The public hearing should also be termed null and void." The Times of India article reported further:
- Dr Vibha Gupta, chairperson of Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti (MSS), Wardha, said temperatures of Wardha have already crossed 47 degrees. Power units would mean disaster. "These units are taking away our land and water, and in return giving us ash. Lanco will take away a lot of water, even as Wardha residents get drinking water every alternate day. The unit will also pollute rivers supplying water to Wardha," Gupta said.
- Many farmers criticized the company officials for making fake promises. Sandeep Pakhide said Lanco was to plant 1.75 lakh trees in four years but it has planted not more than a 1,000 trees. Also, most of the saplings have died. He wanted the plant to use the best technology to curb pollution.
- Power sector expert Sudhir Paliwal said Lanco is making tall claims about benefiting several villages, but there are 84 villages in the 10-12km radius around the plant. "What about the welfare of these villages?" he asked.
July 2010: Two killed, 150 injured in Andhra Pradesh
On July 14, 2010, police in Adhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district fired on farmers and fisherman protesting a 2,640 MW coal plant under construction by Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC), killing two. In addition, 150 people were injured, including 45 policemen, during clashes between protesters and police. In the wake of the violence, police were deployed in about a dozen villages and banned assembly by more than five persons.
April 2010: Five arrested following scuffle between farmers and survey officials in Karnataka
Farmers of Honna Kiranagi in Gulbarga taluk "manhandled " officials attempting to survey land for the 1320 MW Gulbarga power station and burned a copy of the order authorizing the survey. Following a scuffle, Farhatabad police arrested five people including Karnataka Rakshana Vedike district unit president Arunkumar Patil and four farmers. The five were remanded to judicial custody for 15 days. The five were charged with attempt to murder and criminal intimidation. The outbreak followed months of agitation over acquisition of land for the 1320 MW project. At one meeting attended by 208 farmers, only one agreed to part with his land.
January 2010: Hanakon thermal project shelved after intense protest; protesters tortured (Karnataka)
On July 18, 2009, thousands rallied in Karwar to protest the proposed 450 MW Hanakon Thermal Power Project. The rally began at the Maladevi ground, and was followed by a meeting at Savitha circle. A series of speakers denounced the project as a threat to a biologically sensitive region, and criticized the company's suppression of protest. The protest passed the office of Ind Bharat Company, sponsor of the project. Protesters allegedly pelted the offices with stones, then attempted to block the national highway. A coalition of 24 groups submitted a joint memorandum opposing the project. Following a call for a bandh, or general strike, in response to police violence against protesters in Hanakon village, schools and colleges closed in August 2009. The bandh was also observed by shopkeepers of Nandanagadda area of Karwar. Students from multiple colleges marched to primary and high schools in Karwar, closing in each school. The project was shelved in January 2010. According to S R Nayak, chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, police tortured agitators in custody. During a hearing sponsored by the Commission, 40 people testified, including 28 victims of torture at the hands of police.
July 2009: Protest in opposition of the Hanakon Thermal Power Project
In July 2009, a protest was held against the Hanakon Thermal Power Project. It was reported that thousands of people participated in the protest and "submitted a memorandum to the district administration urging them to stop the thermal project." Speakers at the protest stated it was a "do-or-die battle against the thermal project to save the environment and the bio-diversity of the region."
March 2009: Farmers protest land acquisition and pollution from Raikheda power station
Nearly a hundred farmers rallied to protest land acquisitions for the 1370 MW GMR Energy Raikheda power station. Protest leader Ganguram Baghel told reporters, "Today's rally is to remind the company to recall its agents from Raikheda who are making false promises to the farmers. We do not want the plant as it will only raise the pollution levels in Raikheda that already has over a dozen sponge iron units. We will oppose the project till our last breath because it is an issue concerning our survival. Hundreds of Raikheda residents and from adjoining villages have skin cancer due to industrial pollution and the number of patients is going up every month."
February 2009: Opponents win cancellation of Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station
The government halted expansion plans for APGenco to expand its Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station at Krishnapatnam in Nellore district. The plant size was expected to increase in size from 1,600 MW to 4,000 MW, cleared by government officials July 17, 2008. The government instead reallocated the land to Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) for onward transfer to Thermal Powertech Corporation. "It looks as though the state government came under sudden political pressure on behalf of Powertech because of which the expansion plans of a great performer like Genco was thrown to the winds and the land given to the private company," former Union power secretary E A S Sarma told the Times of India. Thermal Powertech had initially been allotted land in Machilipatnam in a prohibited coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) for its thermal plant. However, environmentalists were alarmed that the proposed site was a breeding ground for rare birds. In response, the government denied environmental clearance for the site. The land was reallocated to APIIC just weeks after the environmental clearance for the Thermal Powertech Corporation's Machilipatnam plant.
February 2008: Farmers organize in opposition to JSW Barmer Jalipa Kapurdi power station
Fearing the loss of their source of livelihood, farmers in the local area have blocked government officials from entering hamlets to collect data on villages and holdings. Resistance began during the development of the first phase of the project, with farmers forming an anti-acquisition group and filing a petition against Raj West Power in the Jodhpur bench of the Rajasthan High Court. The petition cited lack of measures to mitigate environmental and social impacts.
January 2008: Public hearing in Raigarh on Jindal Power mine ends in chaos (Chhattisgarh)
The following description accompanied a Youtube video filmed at a public hearing on a coal mine to feel the Jindal Power's Tamnar plant:
- On 5th January 2008, a public hearing was scheduled in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, for environmental clearance of a coal mine to feed Jindal's thermal power station at Tumnar. All the affected people were against handing over their land to Jindal, given the company's past record in environmental and human rights violation. Halfway through the public hearing, local goons appeared and shouted slogans on behalf of Jindal and its chairman Naveen Jindal. Short while thereafter the police lathicharged on the thousands of villagers injuring more than a thousand people. This video was shot by Ramesh Agarwal.
September 2007: 5,000 people rally in Mysore to protest Chamalapura power station (Karnataka)
Chalmapura power station was a 1,000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station proposed by Karnataka Power Corporation. The power station was proposed to be built at Chamalapura in Mysore district, Karnataka. Following an extended opposition campaign by local residents and supporters, the project was cancelled in late 2008. The opposition was described by S G Vombatkere as follows: "The agitations cut across socio-economic barriers and the urban-rural divide. Also, agitations were conducted independently by several civil society organizations at different levels, each according to its individual style and capability. There were 24x7 vigils at and around the proposed project site with village folk including women offering physical resistance to visitors in favour of the project, and street demonstrations and rasta roko in Mysore where peaceful protesters were beaten by police, arrested and charged under criminal law. There were lectures and seminars conducted in Mysore by intellectuals and activists, documentary films made by creative artists, students' protests, meetings, organized between village volk and city folk making common cause and explaining the environmental ill-effects of a mega power plant, and meetings to raise public awareness about the social and environmental ill-effects of the project. There were petitions to all levels of government, and a formal petition was made on October 19, 2007, to the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), cogently arguing that the project was quite unnecessary and undesirable. People lobbied with elected representatives, and delegations went to Bangalore to argue with government officials and political figures. A very significant event was a huge rally of around 5,000 people at the Town Hall in Mysore city centre on September 12, 2007, with leaders of all political parties and groupings excepting of course the ruling party at that time, and many intellectuals. Even some religious leaders lent support to the agitation."
August 2007: 6,000 people face displacement in Madhya Pradesh
Five villages -- Sidhikhurg, Sidhikala, Tiyara, Jhanjhi, and Harrhawa -- covering approximately 3,000 acres and with a population of 10,000 people are slated for displacement by the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in the far western corner of Madhya Pradesh, a state located in central India. The project will use coal from mines located 20 to 25 kilometers away, in Mohar, Amlori, and Chatrasal. The project is sponsored by Reliance Power.
Opposition to expansion of the Dahanu Power Station in coastal Maharashtra
According to an August 2007 press report, Reliance Infrastructure was in the process of getting the required clearances for a 1200 MW expansion at Dahanu Power Station. The expansion of the Dahanu plant is opposed by local farmers and fishermen, who complain about the effect of air and water pollution from the existing plant on chikoo orchards, mango orchards, and coconuts, as well fishing. One of the leaders of the opposition, Nergis Irani, led a successful campaign that resulted in the area's designation as "ecologically fragile" by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1991. In 1996, Irani's organization Dahanu Taluka Environmental Welfare Association (DTEWA) won a Supreme Court order creating the Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA) in "order to address the complex issues of planning and management of ecologically fragile areas." In 2005 the DTEWA won a legal order to require the plant to guarantee the setting up of flue gas desulphurisation by a bank guarantee of Rs. 300 crore, in order to end 18 years of delays in controlling sulphur emissions.
- Text of 1996 Supreme Court order in Bittu Seghal & ANR vs. Union of INdia and ORS
- Ministry of Environment and Forests Notification creating Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority - December 19, 1996, including 2001 amendments]
Film: People's War
In January 2012, film director R Narayana Murthy began shooting a film based on the police attacks on activists at Nagarjuna Construction Company Sompeta Thermal Plant and Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project in Andhra Pradesh. The film, titled "People's War," features Murthy in a lead role along with actors Srihari, Posani Drishna Murali, and Telangana Sakuntala. Locations in Sompeta, Baruva, and Santabommali mandals would would featured in the film.
- Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment (LIFE) - see Athena Chhattisgarh power station
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- Dahanu Taluka Environmental Welfare Association (DTEWA)
- Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA)
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Related SourceWatch articles
- Map of the impact of coal mining in India, Coalscam.org
- "Annexure 1: Some examples of use of Bombay Police Act 1951 Sec, 37(1)(3) prohibiting gathering of people in Ratnagiri district connection with protests against ‘development’ activities unacceptable to them," (Annexure to Madhav Gadgil, "Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts: Summary report of the Maharashtra Government consultation, 30th September & study tour, 4th to 11th October, 2010)
- "How Crony Capitalism Lead to the Kakarapalli tragedy," The Argumentatitve Indian, March 1, 2011
- "Srikakulam battle far from over," NDTV, July 24, 2010
- Rahul Wadke, "Yet another Maharashtra power plant faces villagers' ire," The Hindu Business Line, October 31, 2011
- "Moratorium on new projects in coastal Maharashtra extended," Thaindian News, January 10, 2011
- Smruti Koppikar, "The Rape of Eden," Outlook India, December 20, 2010
- Prakhar Jain, "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Tehelka Magazine, January 21, 2012
- Aman Sethi, "Power plants insulated from protests, villagers shocked," The Hindu, February 5, 2011
- "Energy Policy Special," The Movement of India, September 2010
- Kartikay Mehrotra and Rakteem Katakey, "India’s Rich Halt Power Plans in Setback to Prosperity: Energy" Bloomberg, Jan. 18, 2012
- Ben Castle, "Local resistance to India’s rush for coal," Democracy Center, 2012