Five thermal power projects are proposed to be set up in Srikakulam district.
Among the five project, the proposal of three are in preliminary stage, while the construction of Nagarjuna Construction Company and East Coast Energy project with 2640 MW capacity each had started . East Coast Energy Private Ltd’s thermal power plant proposed at Kakarapalli in Srikakulam district is to be developed in two phases with a total generation capacity of 2640 MW.
Each phase is planned with capacity of 1320 MW having two units of 660 MW. It will start power generation by March 2015 .
The project has received approval for clean development mechanism (CDM) from the National CDM Authority of the Ministry of Environment and Forests; the company affirms they are the first independent power producer in South India to do so.
The thermal power sector in Andhra pradesh and elsewhere has been encountering huge problems related to fuel supply, land acquisition, financing, policy hurdles at the State and Central levels and environmental clearance.
There about 63 power plants are coming up in coastal Andhra. This has triggered intense protests and many questions . Srikakulam cannot sustain or support five thermal power plants of the proposed magnitude in a radius of less than 200 km. There are certain guidelines for location of the thermal projects. However, defying all norms industrialists prefer to locate them along the coast. This is because of import of coal from countries like Indonesia will be cheaper in this route. This is quality coal and the ash content ranges from 10 to 12 per cent as compared to indigenous coal’s 30 per cent. However guidelines prohibit location of plants near breeding, nesting and fish nurseries because it will disturb the breeding and nesting of marine and freshwater fishes .
The Business Line of The Hindu says: "Another issue plaguing the sector but that was not being taken into account by the planners was the decommissioning of projects that have outlived their shelf life of 25-30 years. Though these projects continue to generate power even today, the issue is at what cost?". This is in fact one of the main arguments in favor of new "critical technology" thermal power plants; their alleged capacity of cutting CO2 emissions is the main reason for them to benefit from the CDMs.
But environmental issues are quite severe. The Naupada swamps in this part of the state have been acknowledged as a fragile wetland area. The company, however, has been granted the necessary environmental clearances by the government. Environmentalists allege that the permissions have been bought .
According to the Argumentative Indian, one of the members of the board of directors of the promoting companies is Mr. A. Balraj, who is a retired IAS officer and the chairman of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) which recommended the environmental clearance for the thermal power plant in Kakarapalli .
The project faced a lot of opposition from the local people and environmental activists. They fear that environmental pollution would leave the area uninhabitable . The proposed project faced strong opposition from the people, mostly fishermen, living along the coast. They expressed serious concern over the health hazards. They also afraid that the effluents from project will affect the fish catch in the sea and ultimately their livelihood .
The Srikakulam district administration called two meetings of all stakeholders to get their views. People expressed their strong opposition from the fishermen community, as also some NGOs and environmental activists . The agitation against the project had led to delays in its execution .
In February 2011, work has been suspended after a police firing, as locals opposed the construction of the plant in Santabommali mandal. However, the company got the nod from the Union government in April 2 to recommence work. At least two people were killed and several injured . Even after that, the police reportedly opened fire on the protesting mobs .