Environmental clearance to Andhra power plant scrapped

Hyderabad, July 15 (Calcutta Tube) The National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA) Thursday overruled the environmental clearance given to Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC) for a proposed thermal power project at Sompeta in Andhra Pradesh, which green activists and locals have been vehemently protesting against.

The ruling came a day after two people were killed in police firing on people protesting against the project at Sompeta. About 150 others were injured in the large-scale violence.

The NEAA’s verdict is a shot in the arm for environmentalists and local fishermen and farmers, who had been protesting against the project on the grounds that it would destroy the ecology and endanger their livelihood.

Three groups – the Environment Protection Committee, the Forum for Better Visakha and Samata, had challenged the environmental clearance given for the 2,640 MW project coming up at a cost of Rs.12,000 crore.

NEAA, whose representative had visited the project site last month, suggested that a decision about the project should be taken only after a proper survey of the coastal area. It agreed with the contention of the petitioners that the setting up of the project on wetland is a violation of environment norms.

The representatives of environmental groups alleged that the company got environmental clearance on the basis of false reports submitted by the district collector and other officials.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah told the state legislative council that the government would implement NEAA’s orders.

The government also announced Rs.5 lakh compensation each to the families of the two people killed in the police firing. It also decided to bear the medical expenses of all the injured.

Leader of Opposition and Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu visited Sompeta and consoled the families of the deceased. He assured TDP’s support to the struggle against the power project.

Condemning the police firing, he demanded that Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao should resign owning moral responsibility.

Praja Rajyam Party president K. Chiranjeevi also visited Sompeta and express solidarity with the people fighting against the power project. He announced Rs.1 lakh compensation each to the next of the kin of the deceased.

In Hyderabad, the legislators of TDP were arrested by police when they tried to take out a march from the assembly after being suspended from the house for one day for stalling the proceedings on the Sompeta incident.

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