Friday, June 8, 2012

Shift power plants to Bhubaneswar: WIO Open Letter to Environment Minister

Open Letter of Water Initiatives Odisha(WIO) to the Minister, Forest & Environment, Govt. of Odisha

Now that Bhubaneswar is the hottest city, shift all Coal-fired power plants to the capital

Sambalpur, 8th June 2012

Dear Minister,

On the World Environment Day even as you were busy attending functions, press meets and TV debates and were boasting of your ministry’s tall achievements in greening Bhubaneswar and other initiatives, the Pollution Control Board of the state along with local administration preferred to conduct a public hearing for a Coal Fired Power Plant in Titlagarh, otherwise famous as Tatlagarh (the abode of heat). 

Perhaps you know it Sir, that thermal power plants are the highest Green House Gas emitters and increase the local temperature in the area.  These environmentally destructive plants are also water guzzlers and highly polluting.  Despite knowing all that when your ministry plans to go ahead with such a plant in places like Titlagarh, don’t you think you are fuelling further heat?

The Climate Change Action Plan that you have submitted to the Govt. of India recognises the fact that coal-fired power plants emit 68 per cent of all GHG of the state.  It also recognises the fact that a large chunk of the state’s land is facing degradation and water erosion. 

However, you plan to generate 60,000 MW of thermal power in the coming decade emitting about 300 million tonne carbon per year.  Most of these plants are coming up in areas already suffering widespread land degradation and water scarcity.

The EIA report of the Sahara Thermal Power Plant which is coming up in Titlagarh says it will draw water from Tel river even as it does not show a water availability analysis of the river.  Tel is a water starving river already.  Similarly, a month ago your Ministry tried to conduct a public hearing in Pitamahul of Subarnapur district which is another dry area, so much so that, the fire brigade could not save an entire village, that’s not very far from the proposed thermal power plant, from turning into ashes in want of water. 

This unfortunate incidence took place only a few day after the date in which the public hearing was scheduled.  In this case the water is being proposed to be drawn from the already stressed Mahanadi river.  Is it not mockery of your own Climate Change Action Plan, Sir?

In your speeches during the World Environment you kept on saying that there is need of awareness among the public on conservation of environment to maintain a proper ecological balance.  The above two power plants and almost all the other power plants in the state are being opposed by the local people on ground of their severe impact on the environment including land, water and forests. 

However, it’s your department which is pushing through such polluting plants by crushing people’s genuine concerns.  Don’t you think it’s not the public but your department which needs to be made aware on the need of conserving environment and maintain a proper balance of the ecology, Sir? 

Have you not seen how the EIA report of the Sahara plant tells the blunt lie that the plant will not have any negative impact on ecology?  This is despite the fact that document after document of the Pollution Control Board, your CCAP and many other documents of the department point out that coal-fired power plants have many negative impacts on ecology.  How can you still go ahead with holding a public hearing based on such a false EIA report, Sir?

Sir, we sincerely hope you are aware of the fact that the National Green Tribunal has ordered that all proposed coal fired power plants must do a ‘radiation impact assessment’ along with the ‘environmental impact assessment’.  None of the above power plants and not any other power plant that are proposed in the state have done this.  However, you are still allowing them to go ahead with the public hearing.  Is it not an illegal act Sir? 

Seeing your adrenaline rush for such ‘ecologically destructive’ methods of energy production, we would like to urge upon you to shift all the coal fired power plants to Bhubaneswar where, as you said in your speeches, you are creating a very good green belt through plantation of saplings and where the municipality has so much water that it supplies much more than the minimum stipulated amount to the areas it services water supply. 

We are sure you will not face opposition from the local people there as they have nothing to complain about loss of livelihood, land and environment.  We also make such an urge seeing your love to establish power plants in areas which are already suffering with excessive temperature rise.  On 7th June, two days after you boasted of your greenery effort in the city, Bhubaneswar was the hottest city in the state, beating all its previous records.  So, shifting the power plants to Bhubaneswar would also satisfy your drive to fuel the hot places with more heat.

We hope you kill kindly pay attention to our urges.

Thanking you

Ranjan K Panda

Water Initiatives Odisha: Fighting water woes, combating climate change... more than two decades now!


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