Windmills in the Koyna Sanctuary, Western Ghats of Maharashtra

Several Indian companies involved in the installation of more than 200 windmills in the Koyna Sanctuary. The project also comprises 10 resorts and a dam. Local EJOs claim biodiversity loss and local displacement.


Description

In 1996 the Indian government leased land in Satara district (Maharasthtra) for a windmill demonstration project. Later it bought the land from villagers at a cheap price to set up four 3.75 MW windmills. A few years later (1999) Suzlon purchased land from villages within a 20 km radius to expand wind power in the region. The company acquired the land cheaply, having told villagers that they would get employment. However, they only received temporal contracts. Grazing – the major previous land use – is now banned on the land occupied by windmills. Other companies like Bajaj Auto, Tata Motors, Star and Sarita Chemicals then invested in the Suzlon windmills becoming owners of windfarms. This companies sell the electricity to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board at Rs.3.16 per kwh, while they consume electricity at a concessional rate of Rs.1.20 per kwh. In the year 2010 1,240 windmills where already installed in Satara. From this total, 215 were located inside the Koyna Sanctuary (with a 80 MW capacity). The Sanctuary was notified in 1985; it has 42,355 ha and is bedecked with dense forest and rich biodiversity. It encompasses the core area of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, and is also an important bird area for endangered species, including the red-headed vulture and white stork. Various villages are located in its delimitations.

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Basic Data
NameWindmills in the Koyna Sanctuary, Western Ghats of Maharashtra
CountryIndia
ProvinceMaharashtra
SiteSatara district
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Windmills
Land acquisition conflicts
REDD/CDM
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Other
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific CommoditiesLand
Carbon offsets
Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSuzlon purchased land from villages within a 20 km radius. Other companies like Bajaj Auto, Tata Motors, Star and Sarita Chemicals then invest in the Suzlon windmills becoming owners of windfarms.

The companies sell the electricity to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board at Rs.3.16 per unit, while they consume electricity at a concessional rate of Rs.1.20 per unit

In the year 2010 1,240 windmills where already installed in Satara. From this total, 215 windmills (with a 80 MW capacity) were located inside the Koyna Sanctuary. ). It is estimated that 10 per cent of the Koyna Sanctuary land has been sold or encroached. Buyers offer price as high as Rs 2.5 lakh per acre (0.4 ha).
Project Area (in hectares)42,355
Level of Investment (in USD)100,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/2001
End Date2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesSuzlon Energy from India - Developer
Bajaj Auto from India - Investor
Tata Motors from India - Investor
Sarita Chemicals from India
Ghodawat Energy Pvt. Ltd. (GEPL) from India
Bharat Forge Ltd from India
Relevant government actorsMaharashtra Government

Bombay Supreme Court

The Central Empowered Committee (gives recommendations to the Supreme Court on forest-related matters)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCreative Nature Friends (Karad-based non-profit environmental NGO)

BirdLife International, a global network of bird conservation organisations.

Other supporters such as Mohan Maruti Maskar Patil (a journalist in Satara who studies the impact of windmills on wildlife) and Rohan Bhate, another naturalist in the region.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Pastoralists
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.It seems that the forest department has decided to seal windmills. However, there is still a conflict of interests on this case. There are many companies involved in windmills and other projects in the region. There is also corruption involving politicians, while government agencies have contradictory stands on the case.
Sources and Materials
Links

Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Garima Goel; Koyna sanctuary plundered, in: Down to Earth, Thursday 13 January 2011
[click to view]

Nikhil Deshmukh, Satara Windmill, in: The Times of India
[click to view]

Nikhil Deshmukh , Kolhapur forest officials seal windmills in Koyna, in The Times of India, May 23, 2015
[click to view]

Nikhil Deshmukh , Land lease policy for windmills on cards, in The Times of India, June 22,2010
[click to view]

Kanchan Chaudhari, Windmills in Koyna to stay, but construction not allowed, in:

Hindustan Times, Mumbai, Jul 19, 2011
[click to view]

Larry Lohmann, Climate politics. Occupation and privatization, 16 April 2007,
[click to view]

Other Documents

http://www.tehelka.com/2011/09/koyna-was-to-be-a-sanctuary-so-why-the-windmills/
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSofía Avila Calero
Last update29/03/2017
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