Villagers oppose UMPP in Niddodi

MP to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha and take a delegation to New Delhi

The worry of losing their land and the village where they lived for generations, was evident among the people of Niddodi who had gathered in a large number, amidst rains, when the local MP accompanied by mediapersons visited the proposed thermal power project site on Monday. They all had one request to make, “please stop the proposed ultra mega power project (UMPP) in Niddodi. It would destroy our lives.”

The fight against the mega project gained momentum after the team of officers from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), PFC and other departments visited the project site on May 16 and the Rs 500 crore budgetary allocation was made for the project in the recently announced state budget.

The villagers who had gathered at the picturesque green project site on Monday, unanimously opposed the project and affirmed that they would not give their land for the project, come what may.

President of Mathrubhoomi Samrakshana Samiti which is spearheading the fight, Alphonse D’Souza said that the project, if comes up, will throw the lives of thousands of families of Niddodi, Kallamundkur, Thenkamijar, Aikala, Mannabettu gram panchayats, out of gear.

With most of the families depending on agriculture for their livelihood, the installation of power plant would ruin their lives, he said.

He rued at the authorities and the elected representatives for not divulging any details about the project to the villagers, by keeping them in dark. “When the team of officers came for spot visit on May 16 and faced resistance from people, they too did not reveal any information about the project.

We do not know what would be the exact area of land required for the project and how many families might have to be displaced. None of the applications filed under the RTI, with the district administration, KIADB and the environment department, have given us satisfactory answers,” he said.

All in unison

The agitation witnessed not only the support of the youngsters and middle aged but also some of the senior citizens of the village.

Kalyani (80) and Chandraiah Gowda (75) who had gathered at the venue said they would not leave their land for the sake of the project. “I cultivate 18 acre of land here and my family is residing in this village for several generations. I know nothing but agriculture, and I am not going to see my village acquired for a project,” he said. A daily wage labourer Girija said she opposes the project, for it would pollute her village and the nearby villages.

There is 1700 acre land with a population of 4900 in Niddodi alone.

MP’s promise

Speaking to mediapersons at the project site, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said he would continue to oppose the project and would raise a question on the status of the project at Lok Sabha session which will commence from August 5. “I too have no information about the land required for the project.

The socio-economic survey is yet to be taken up to forecast the project impact on the villagers. I will take a delegation to the union minister for energy opposing the project,” he said.

However, the MP said it was not the time to ‘politicise’ the issue, when he was reminded that it was the State BJP government which had taken the initiative for the project.

Project of NTPCL
The 4,000 MW capacity coal based UMPP was proposed to be implemented by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in Niddodi, after the State government shifted the project site from Tadadi to Niddodi.

The team which visited the projet site felt the location fits the bill and estimated the total availability of land in the site is 1722 acre including 1034 acre of private land and 688 acre of government land. The team has asked the State government to take people into confidence before going ahead with the project.

A revised plan has been prepared by the government to be forwarded to CEA, which intends to spread the project to over three to four locations, by setting up smaller and specific units, due to hurdles in large scale land acquisition.

Hunger strike
The people of Niddodi and surrounding villages have decided to stage hunger strike on July 28 from 6 am to 6 pm, opposing the state government’s move to go ahead with the coal based project. Over 2000 people are expected to participate in the protest led by Mathrubhoomi Samrakshana  Samiti.

Samiti President Alphonse D’Souza told that they had sent memorandum against the project to 18 prominant persons including the President of India, prime minister, AICC President, Governor, ministers, MP and MLAs. “Except from the Governor’s office, we did not receive any acknowledgement,” he complained.

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