Chamalapura Thermal Power Plant, Karnataka, India


Karnataka government has proposed a 1000 MW coal fired thermal power plant at Chamalapura, H.D.Kote taluk, Mysore district in early 2007. The project was proposed to built with a public-private partnership model. It was to be coordinated by the Power Company of Karnataka Ltd(PCKL), a Special Purpose Vehicle of the State Government. This region with its verdant agricultural lands is sandwiched between the Kabini and Cauvery rivers, and has a wide network of lakes. There are about 80 lakes (perennial and non perennial) lying within 8 km radius of Chamalapura. The proposed power plant is expected to result in land acquisition of 3000 acres (including 600 odd acres of forest lands) and displace at least 13,000 people, in Chamalapura & its neighboring villages.

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Basic Data
NameChamalapura Thermal Power Plant, Karnataka, India
SiteVillage- Chamalapura; Taluk- H.D.Kote; District- Mysore
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Government had decided to implement three thermal power projects of 1,000 MW each in Gulbarga, Belgaum and Chamalapura. The project was convienced in early 2007 [5]. On 08 August 2007, the Power Company of Karnataka Ltd (PCKL) issued a Global Invitation for Request for Qualification (RFQ), inviting bids for setting up a 1000 MW power plant at Chamalapura. Bids from a number of companies including Reliance Power and Tatas are said to have been received in response to the RFQ, according to newspapers [1]. The power plant was proposed to be set up under the BOO (Build, Own and Operate) model, as a public-private partnership and mooted by agencies of the Karnataka government [3].
Project Area (in hectares)1,214
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population13000
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesPower Company of Karnataka Limited (PCKL) from India
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Karnataka
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersChamalapura Ushna Vidyut Sthavara Virodhi Horata Samanvaya Samithi, Enviornment Support Group,, Federation of the Progressive Associations in Mysore, Many farmers, litterateurs, activists of progressive organisations, theatre personalities and students [4]
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
theatre personalities
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesProtestors had communicated to the Government that under no circumstances they will allow the plant to come up as, according to them, it is detrimental to their lives and livelihood. They demanded an explanation from the Government on the rationale behind branding fertile land as barren land and cautioned that there would be a repetition of what happened at Nandigram in West Bengal, if the State used force in the matter. [2, 4].
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Mysore Grahakara Samiti, filed a petition to the the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission in 2007 to initiate a public hearing proceedings on the 06 March 2008. The petition was filed to look into the matter of the desirability of establishing 1000 MW coal based power projects at different places in Karnataka, including one at Chamalapura, Mysore District. The initial hearing on the 06 March 2008 was followed by a site visit by the members of the KERC to the project affected villages on 20 March 2008 and a final hearing on the 03 April 2008. Along with residents from project affected villages and citizens. Citizens including Environment Support Group raised the following key concerns:

1.The Chamalapura project was initiated without following the clearance procedure prescribed under the law.

2.The Government of Karnataka has granted in-principle clearance to the allocation of 3.9 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) of water for use by three power plants (including the one at Chamalapura) from the Cauvery River Basin. However, data accessed from the Karnataka Water Resources Department and the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Ltd. for the decade of 1997-2008, clearly demonstrate that the Kabini River (which is in the Cauvery Basin) does not have even 1.56 TMC of water that is claimed to be needed for the 1,000 MW Chamalapura power plant and its ancillary facilities.

3.Chamalapura as a site for a 1000 MW coal fired thermal power plant does not satisfy the requirements prescribed by the Guidelines for Siting Thermal Power Plants, 1987 of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) or the Siting Standards prescribed by the Karnataka Dept of Ecology & Environment & the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).

4.Taking cognizance of the submissions made by project affected villagers, Gram Panchayat members, social action groups (including ESG), environmentalists and concerned citizens in the course of the Public Hearing, the KERC in its order dated 19th May 2008 , observed that the 'bidding process lack(ed) transparency' and was carried out in 'an extremely casual manner.' The KERC also recommended that the State Government should take a de-novo decision to set up on the Chamalapura proposal, after looking into all relevant aspects like 'environment and heritage, land acquisition, fuel linkage, water supply... and so on.' [1]

Karnataka Power Minister to announce in late 2008 that the power plant would not be constructed against the wishes of the people. While there has been no official statement withdrawing the project proposal, it is reliably understood that the Chamalapura site has been dropped [2]
Sources and Materials

Thermal Power: Guidelines for New Plants
[click to view]

Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement act
[click to view]


[1] Chamalapura Thermal Power Plant : Powering the State, Disempowering People
[click to view]

[2] Chamalapura power station
[click to view]

[3] Karnataka defers decision on Chamalapura power
[click to view]

[4] ‘Drop Chamalapura power plant’
[click to view]

[5] Government to go ahead with Chamalapura power project
[click to view]

Chamalapura: activists want seers to lead stir
[click to view]

Government to go ahead with Chamalapura power project
[click to view]

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Protest against proposed power plant at Chamalapura

Farmers to intensify agitation against Chamalapura power plant

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[click to view]

Media Links

Opposing chamalapura thermal power plant project at H.D. Kote, Mysore, 2007
[click to view]

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ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update20/07/2014