Govt okays controversial Hankona thermal plant

Govt okays controversial Hankona thermal plant

Clearance given despite objections from Karnataka and Goa

The proposed 450-MW project is being strongly opposed by the natives of Karwar as also by Goa government which has objected to the coal-based plant being located too close to the famous Khotigao wildlife sanctuary in Canacona Taluka.

 Speaking to Deccan Herald, BJP MP from Uttar Kannada Ananth Kumar Hegde maintained that “No Objection Certificate has recently been given to the project by Union environment ministry despite strong environmental concerns expressed by us and various environmental groups.” Asked whether he has communicated his reservation against the project to the state BJP government, he said “Yes. I don’t know about the government stand. But we have made it very clear that we don’t want it”, he said.

The objection of Goa government to the power plant has been registered in a letter written on June 26, this year, by Aleixo Sequeira, Goa Minister for power and environment , to Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for environment & forests.

Contrary to law

“ The proposed power plant near Karwar is located approximately 5 kms away from the famous Khotigao wildlife sanctuary. The environment Acts stipulate that no such plant should be established within a radius of 25 km from a wildlife sanctuary. The people including tribals residing around the forest are afraid of the irrepairable damage and consequences that will be caused to this eco sensitive area”, says the letter.

The Goa Minister had, therefore, requested Ramesh to stop the thermal plant.
The negative impact of the proposed power plant has also been listed by top forest officials of the Karwar division while assessing the environmental cost of the project.
The Conservator of forests and Deputy-conservator of forests- of Karwar division have in their communication (in possession with Deccan Herald) this year authenticated effluent generation estimated to be 78m3 /hrs from the thermal power plant “which is going to be discharged in the river at a temperature higher than 5 degree C than the normal water temperature”. This , the forest officials write “ could cause migration of fishes” and “ may impact the life of aquatic fauna.”

Damage to ecology

“The proposed site is surrounded by mangroves ecosystem in southern direction that is the water course of Kali river and in North there are tropical rain forests which play an important role in the climate of the region”, says a letter of the Deputy Conservator to the Chief Conservator, Forests, Karwar division.

It also mentions generation of .30 metric tonne of fly ash and .07 metric tonne of bottom ash annually and adds that its discharge in the air will “cause damage to the ecology of the area including flora and fauna combinedly.”

Former MP and now governor of Uttarakhand Margaret Alva has spoken against the project apprehending major Singur-like snowballing of the people’s protest against the power plant.

Asked about the Congress-led Goa government’s communication  to the Union environment minister against the thermal plant, MP Hegde said if they are so genuine “they should go to the court against the environment ministry for giving NOC to the project”.

Hegde claimed the Congress opposition to the project was “superficial”.

Quizzed as to why the current BJP government had not cancelled the project approved by the Kumaraswamy-led coalition dispensation, the saffron party Member of Parliament said “they cannot revoke permission given by the previous government.”

It looks like a long haul for the power project and those opposed to it in Karnataka.

Unwanted project

* BJP MP unhappy, says people of Karwar do not want it
*  Goa minister objects to project in letter to Ramesh
* Refers to environment laws stipulating that no such plant should be established within a radius of 25 km from a wildlife sanctuary
* Karwar forest officials’ assessment of negative impact of plant ignored

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