Complaints pour in at UPCL meet

Expert panel recommendations to be submitted within 45 days

Speaking at the expert committee meeting on coal based Udupi Power Corporation Limited held here at Deputy Commissioner’s office on Saturday, Ramakrishna informed that the overall report of the committee on UPCL power project will be submitted to the government within one-and-half month. He said the foremost phase will comprise of the attempts to bridge the gap between district administration and local people in the power plant area. Besides, instructions will be given to the district administration over the measures to be adopted in this direction. The second phase will focus on the lapses by the Company and the measures to be taken to rectify the lapses.

The third phase recommendations will include an attempt at focusing over the lapses on the part of power plant as a whole, especially the failures on the part of monitoring the plant. These failures will be brought to the notice of the government. Finally, it is the responsibility of the State government and Central government to take action.

There are many issues to be taken care by both the governments. The issues like environment, public hearing, technical issues, impact assessment, amendments in the environment policies come under the jurisdiction of the Central government, he added.

Ramakrishna informed that the committee received 55 written applications from the victims. The expert committee will analyse each application in depth and take decision over the matter. The team will also visit the UPCL site.

Threat to water body

Balakrishna Shetty, the executive president of Nandikur Janajagruti Samiti said the plant can not function at the present location. The project is serious threat to water body of the region besides affecting the health of the villagers. The geographical features, the soil conditions, the meteorological conditions, hydrological conditions and heavy precipitation make the area unsuitable for the project, he added.

The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) Udupi district President Vijay Kumar Hegde alleged that public hearing is not done prior to the setting up of the plant. Besides, the Joint Measurement Committee is not constituted.

Though human right violation takes place in the plant area, no official has visited the site so far. The power plant was set up without obtaining license from the Panchayat. The substandard and cheaper technology is used in the plant to generate the power, he said.

Briefing over the problems encountered by the villagers, KRRS Padabettu Secretary Dinesh Shetty said: “We don’t need development at the cost of our lives and by destroying the precious environment. As many as 8 villages are massively affected by the plant. The public in the area are breathing poisonous air and are drinking contaminated water. The yield of paddy cultivation has drastically come down.”

Dr Y N Shetty who owns private hospital in Padubidri said he receives many number of patients from Nandikur and Yellur area complaining over the respiratory problems and skin diseases.

Diseases like allergy bronchitis, allergy dermatitis and bronchitis astama are common among the residents of the area, he informed.

Ramakant Devadiga from Padabettu said that the high tension wire is oxidized due to the salt vapor emerging out of the chimneys of UPCL.

A localite, Gopi Poojarthy, alleged that her land with good yield was crushed down overnight by the company officials without giving any prior intimation. The case of land acquisition was pending before the court when the company officials destroyed her farm land.

KRRS District Vice-President Prakash Shetty said the contaminated salty water released to the sea has affected marine lives.

Yelluru Gram Panchayat Member Jayanth Bhat alleged that pollution control board officials have been bribed by the Company.

The expert committee team comprised of six members besides Karnataka Bio-fuel Development Board (KBDB) (Bangalore) Chairman Y B Ramakrishna. J V Ramachandra, scientist from Bharatiya Vijnana Kendra, Karnataka Environment Pollution Control Board, Senior Officer C D Kumar, Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) Chemical Engineering Department Professor Jaydev Bhat, MIT Civil Engineering Department Professor T Ganesh, NITK Civil Department Professor Dr Subhash and Regional Environment Pollution Control Board Director T Balachandra.

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