Shutdown in Andhra town against power plant

People in Sompeta town of the district in north coastal Andhra Monday observed a shutdown demanding that the government stop work on the project which, they claimed, threatens the ecology and endangers the livelihood of local communities.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in response to the shutdown call given by the Environment Protection Committee, a group of environmentalists and NGOs.

Protestors, including fishermen and farmers, likely to be affected by the project, staged road and rail blockades.

Police arrested dozens of protestors when they tried to stop the convoy of Roads and Buildings Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao as the latter was visiting Ichapuram.

The arrested include opposition Telugu Desam Party’s legislator Sai Raju’s father Raja Rao.

Some activists alleged that the minister was instrumental in approving the plant work.
Raising slogans against the project, the protestors also squatted on the railway tracks, bringing rail traffic to a halt.

The Environment Protection Committee is also demanding compensation to the families of those killed in police firing during the protests in July last year.

Two people were killed and several others were injured July 14 when police opened fire at people protesting against the project by Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC) at Sompeta.

The National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA) later overruled the environmental clearance given for the 2,640-MW project coming up at a cost of Rs.12,000 crore. Locals claim that the work had resumed on the project.

Meanwhile, a group of ruling Congress leaders Monday began a visit to north coastal Andhra region to inspect thermal power project sites, special economic zones, mines and ports amid allegations that irregularities were committed in approving the projects.

Member of Parliament V. Hanumantha Rao, who is leading the group, said they would urge the government to cancel the Sompeta project as it would harm the interests of farmers and fishermen.


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