35k-mw power plants face green lobby ire in Maharashtra

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 28 2009, 04:13am hrs
Ashok Chavan, who will soon take over as the chief minister of Maharshtra for a second term, faces stiff opposition for the hassle-free implementation of power projects, with a total generation capacity of over 35,000 mw, being planned in two districtsRatnagiri and Sindhudurg. Chavan, who had earlier told FE that the new Congress-led government plans to make the state load-shedding free in the next three years, will need to involve the agitating green lobby, protesting against the development of these power projects.

The green lobby has called for a cumulative environment impact assessment, as it fears these projects will severely impact horticulture and tourism in these two districts. Incidentally, villagers plan to ban the entry of Nuclear Power Corporation officials who propose to carry out land acquisition processes on October 27. However, a NPCIL official told FE, "The opposition is only from a section of villagers, as a large number of them are ready to accept the compensation of Rs 40 lakh per hectare for the 960-hectare land. NPCIL plans to spend around Rs 100 crore for relief and rehabilitation packages, which have already been cleared by the Maharahtra's rehabilitation authority."

A state government official said the new government will soon declare its policy for the development of these projects and added that all environmental concerns will be taken into account. Sources from various NGOs opposing these projects have questioned the necessity of so many projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, since their annual turnover, purely from the cultivation of mangoes, is about Rs 2,400 crore. Vivik Bhide, horticulurist and an active member against such projects informed said, " Nearly 63,000 hectare is under mango cultivation in Ratnagiri and 28,000 hectare in Sindhudurg, while cashewnut is grown on 90,000 hectare in Ratnagiri and 75,000 hectare in Sindhudurg.