Udupi: Administration to hold Public hearing on UPCL

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By Snehalatha, Udupi
Bellevision Media Network

Udupi, 18 October 2011: After the hard protests by the protesters against the Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office, finally the District Administration has decided to conduct the public hearing meeting before 31st October. The protest was led by Jilla Raitha Sangha and Nandikoor Janajagrathi Samithi and with them about 100 people from the surrounding Ellur, Nandikoor, Ermal, Padoor villages who have been suffering from this power plant.
The protesters symbolically demonstrated empty pots to indicate that their thousands of drinking water wells are polluted by the power plant and demanded the supply of clean drinking water. They also symbolically displayed empty dinning plates indicating their rice, vegetables and other agricultural produce being destroyed by the salt water and coal ash of the power plants. Some protesters who were suffering from various skin diseases from the polluted water were seated in the front in the protest. They also brought the polluted water in bottle to show the Deputy Commissioner about the status of water and there were worms in them.


They conducted protest for more than 2 hours, in between Kumar from DC office came to them, but the protesters insisted that DC himself has to come to talk. Then the protesters called slogans against DC and District In charge Minister Dr. V.S. Acharya. Though DC Dr. M.T. Reju came back to office from a meeting he did not meet the people, instead sent the police. This angered the protester even more. Then the protesters removed their shirts and called slogans against the DC and even threatened to remove pants.
Finally the DC called the protesters into his air-conditioned office for the talk. There discussion took place between DC and the protesters. Protesters asked him that, recently while DC went to the power plant had assured of conducting the public hearing on 17th October, but never conducted. But DC said that due to lack of time with the committee who is studying this issue the public meeting could not be conducted. But the protester insisted on a confirmed date for this public hearing meeting.
Finally DC assured to conduct the public hearing before 31st October and also assured to provide drinking water to the surrounding villages. The protest was led by Krishi Sangha President Vijaykumar Hegde, Secretary Shashidhara Shetty Ermalu, Nandikur Janajagrati Samiti Vice President Madhava Shetty, the sufferers; Dinesh Shetty, Krishnamurthy Bhat, Sheikh Abdulla, Roy David, Sanjeeva Poojary, Poovappa Poojary, Kariya Shetty, Prakash Shetty, environmentalist of Manglaore Vidya Dinakar and others.
In spite of the continuous protests since 5 years, Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) a joint venture project of Nagarjuna and Lanco companies, has been generating power in its 1st unit of coal based power plant since one year and now it is waiting for the clearance from the government for the commissioning of the 2nd unit. Now the District Administration has decided to conduct a public hearing before 31st October. But it is doubtful whether this public meeting is called with the intention to resolve the problems of the public.
As per the law, before commissioning of the power plant such public hearing to receive public petitions is to be conducted. But even though the environmentalists and others who are opposing this power plant has been conducting protests and submitting petitions, the previous Deputy Commissioners have never conducted such public hearings. But after so many years and after the power plant started its production, now the Deputy Commissioner Dr. M.T. Reju has decided to conduct this public hearing.
After Pejavara Seer began his protest against this power plant, the government formed a committee of 6 members to study the advantages and disadvantages of this power plant and submit a report. This public hearing seems called for the purpose of preparing a report for this committee and not actually to resolve the problems and issues of those who are suffering from this power plant.
This committee may listen to those who are suffering and can mention it in their report and draw the attention of the government on this matter. But the government itself has stood out in support of the UPCL. So this committee which was formed by the government itself, will they mention in their report that this power plant is causing difficulties to the local residents and hence recommend closing it down? Even if they recommend so, will the government consider this report? as the government is already preparing to give the clearance. There are strong doubts about this.
Anyway, nothing stops the people who are opposing the power plant to be happy for a while, that after 5 – 6 years of protest finally at least now the Deputy Commissioner has agreed to conduct the public hearing!





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Comments on this Article
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Tue, October-18-2011, 2:52
The Aggrieved may take to court the company and state Pollution Control Board for damages and make the district administration a party in the suit. A win-win solution is for the company to invest in pollution control technologies, which could cost around 600 crores, and operate the power plant as they do in developed world. Then sell the power at a higher tariff to recover the investment made.
Benedict Noronha, Udupi/Abudhabi Tue, October-18-2011, 8:51
congratulations to agitating committee of UPCL. It was very appt action D.c is great and he has agreed to hear Public on the matter. Zilla incharge minster will also have to be present so that the differences be reduced and agitaiton called off, so that the problems of the people be mitigated.All the best.
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