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Chamalapura Thermal Power Plant, Mysore district, 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.

Chamalapura, the epicenter of the group of villages proposed as a site for the thermal power plant. In addition to the loss of rich agricultural lands, displacement of people and adverse impact on the ground water table in the region, the power plant, if set up, would threaten two crucial wildlife habitats- Rajiv Gandhi National Park at Nagarhole is about 14 km away and Bandipur National Park is a mere 30 km from the project site. Right from the beginning, this proposal was met with stiff resistance from project affected people, environmentalists and social action groups [1].

Cutting across socio-economic barriers and urban-rural divide, the agitations were conducted independently by several civil society organisations at different levels, with contonuous vigils at and around the project site, street demonstrations, rasta rook in Mysore etc. [6]. Peaceful protestors were also breaks up, arrested and charged under criminal laws. There were lectures and seminars conducted in Mysore by intellectuals and activists, documentary films made by creative artists, students’ protests, meetings organised between village folk and city folk making common cause and explaining the environmental ill-effects of a mega power plant, and meetings to raise public awareness about the social and environmental ill-effects of the project. There were petitions to all levels of government, and a formal petition was made on October 19, 2007, to the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), cogently arguing that the project was quite unnecessary and undesirable. People lobbied with elected representatives, and delegations went to Bangalore to argue with government officials and political figures. A very significant event was a huge rally of around 5000 people at the Town Hall in Mysore city centre on September 12, 2007, with leaders of all political parties and groupings excepting, of course, the ruling party at that time, and many intellectuals. Even some religious leaders lent support to the agitation. And the local media covered all aspects of the agitations. An apolitical alliance of agitating organisations and individuals was formed and named as the Chamalapura Ushnavidyut Sthavara Virodhi Horata Samithi (CUSVHS) [6].

As a result of the continued protests, in late 2008, the Karnataka Power Minister announced that the power plant would not be constructed. As a result of this victory, the CUSVHS decided to erect a granite stone table (Vijayagallu) in July 2010, next to a Malleshwara temple on a hill close to Chamalapura [6]. The stone is engraved with a simple message of not undertaking any destructive, anti-people projects in the future [7]. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Chamalapura Thermal Power Plant, Mysore district, Karnataka, India
State or province:Karnataka
Location of conflict:Village- 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:Thermal power plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The 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:1,214
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:13000
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:Power Company of Karnataka Limited (PCKL) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Karnataka
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Chamalapura 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]

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Theatre personalities. Students
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:Protestors 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain: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 & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement act

Thermal Power: Guidelines for New Plants

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

[2] Chamalapura power station

[3] Karnataka defers decision on Chamalapura power

[4] ‘Drop Chamalapura power plant’

[5] Government to go ahead with Chamalapura power project

[6] Vombatkere, S. G. 2010. Vijayagallu- A rare event in Troubled times: People celebrate a victory. Mainstream, Vol. XLVIII, No 33, August 7, 2010

[7]. A Victory Cast in Stone. S. G. Vombatkere, 13 December 2020. The Citizen.

Chamalapura: activists want seers to lead stir

Oneindia. Protest against proposed power plant at Chamalapura

Monday, July 23, 2007

Oneindia. Farmers to intensify agitation against Chamalapura power blished: Friday, August 24, 2007

Government to go ahead with Chamalapura power project

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Opposing chamalapura thermal power plant project at H.D. Kote, Mysore, 2007

The Victory stone, with English translation

Other comments:The victory of the People was confirmed by the Victory Stone erected in 2020 next to Malleshwara temple near Chamalapura, at a simple ceremony attended by village and city folk, women, old people and students, organic farmers, intellectuals and activists, and representatives of farmers' and Dalit organizations. A student-group sang songs about nature and the environment. A 4-year-old girl, symbolising Earth belonging to the coming generation, inaugurated the stone tablet with a simple garland.The engraving on the stone speaks of nature's bounty, its life forms, forest wealth, wildlife and the environment in the same breath as it mentions People, significant in present times when all these are under government-corporate assault nation-wide. In a display of People's power, the stone also very simply “warns any government of the future not to undertake such destructive, anti-people projects”.

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update14/12/2020
Conflict ID:989



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