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Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Plant, Tamil Nadu, India


Description:

The Ministry of Power of Government of India has launched a unique initiative in 2005-06 to facilitate the development of Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) each having a capacity of about 4000 MW each. The aim is to enhance the capacity, at both the coal pitheads and coastal locations aimed at delivering power at competitive cost to consumers by achieving economies of scale. The Central Government has accordingly taken the initiative for facilitating the development of UMPPs under tariff based competitive bidding route using super critical technology on build, own and operate (BOO) basis. Central Electricity Authority (CEA) is the Technical partner and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) is the Nodal Agency [1].

One of the UMPP has been proposed near the Gangadevankuppam village of Kancheepuram. The project got a fillip in 2008 from the then DMK government. This project has given rise to apprehension among the farming community in the area. The region, in fact, looks abundant in natural resources, including the presence of lagoons, estuaries and a reserved forest. A complex system of water bodies, both natural and artificial, with as many as 80 lakes, dot the area around which the plant is supposed to come up. More importantly, the area is filled with sand dunes almost every few meters. The presence of mangroves also makes it an ecologically sensitive zone. According to villagers, they have not been given information regarding the project. A public hearing held in 2010 for the plant was also hurriedly concluded without taking into account their views. In spite of this the Expert Appraisal Committee recommended clearance for the project to the Ministry of Environment [2, 3].

Fishermen in Panaiyur Periakuppam village, where the captive coal jetty for the plant would be situated, fear that the project would completely destroy their livelihood. A port is expected to come up between the village and its neighbouring hamlet occupying shorefront of 650 meters. The coal stockyard will hold 310,000 tonnes of coal and would be built on an 83-acre land. The villagers have challenged the clearance given to the coal jetty in the National Green Tribunal and say they would do the same for the power project. Interestingly, the plant and coal jetty are proposed to be set up 6 km apart [2,3].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Plant, Tamil Nadu, India
Country:India
State or province:Tamil Nadu
Location of conflict:Gangadevankuppam, Kancheepuram
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional 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
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Electricity
Coal

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Government of India has identified Cheyyur in Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu, as one of several sites for a 4000 MW ultra-mega power plant (UMPP) using imported coal and super-critical technology. Super-critical technology claims to attain far higher thermal-electrical conversion efficiencies than sub-critical plants, thereby maximizing the conversion of coals embedded thermal energy into electricity. The coal would be brought in through a captive jetty-cum-port located between the fishing villages of Panaiyur Periakuppam and Panaiyur Chinnakuppam.

The port will occupy a 650 meter shorefront.

A coal stocking yard capable of storing 310,000 tonnes of coal will be constructed on 83 acres of coastal land abutting the two fishing villages. A 6.5 km conveyor belt running over dunes, fields, orchards, densely wooded areas and water bodies would carry the coal to the power plant. Various documents provide varying figures -- between 415 and 489 hectares -- for the land requirements of the power plant and its ash dyke.

The Ministry of Power aims to develop the UMPPs on a Build Own Operate (BOO) basis, through the Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC), a public sector unit. For the Cheyyur project, PFC has set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called the Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Limited, based in New Delhi. The SPV is solely meant to acquire land, perform the EIA, obtain the various clearances and hand over the project to a private party who wins the bid for the project, thus saving the private party the trouble of land acquisition, impact assessment, public consultation and environmental clearances [3].

Project area:450
Level of Investment:3,877,035,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Limited from India
Central Electricity Authority (CEA) from India
National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from India
Adani Power Limited (APL) from India
Jindal Power Limited (JPL) from India
JSW Energy Limited (JSWEL) from India
Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) from India
China Light & Power (CLP) from Hong Kong SAR, China - based in Hong Kong
Relevant government actors:Government of India, Ministry of Environment &, Forests
International and Finance InstitutionsPower Finance Corporation (PFC) from India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Community Environmental Monitoring, a program of The Other Media., Local Villagers

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
A resident of Panaiyur Periakuppam in Kancheepuram has moved the National Green Tribunal here challenging the Environment Clearance (EC) awarded recently to the proposed 4,000 Megawatt Ultra Mega Power Project in Cheyyur belonging to the Power Finance Corporation by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: 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, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
New legislation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Compensation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Development of alternatives:Residents of a few villages in Kancheepuram district expressed their reservations over the proposal to start an ultra-mega power plant on the ground that the entire process of execution lacked transparency.
The villagers, all of them either fishermen or farmers, submitted their grievance, stating that the power plant would sound a ‘death knell' to farming and fishing activities.
The construction of jetties to off-load coal would put an end to coastal fishing and a few hundred families would be deprived of their livelihood.
Farmers said that among the 1,110 acres proposed to be acquired for the project, a majority of it was fertile cultivable land.
Farmers further said that the proposal to acquire land with a sum of Rs. 1.5 lakh as compensation per acre was 'thoroughly unjust.' The market rate was anywhere between Rs. 15 lakh and Rs. 20 lakh an acre. If the farmers were to accept the amount fixed as compensation, they would not be able to purchase even a cent of cultivable land [4]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:A report released by environmentalists and endorsed by prominent persons. Villagers, alleged that a number of false representations have been made in trying to get clearance for the project. These included claims such as non-existence of any sensitive ecosystem, the plant’s location on barren land and the stability of the shoreline. The report also alleged that the site where the plant is currently set to come up was never considered by the Central Electricity Authority as claimed by the project proponents [2]
Public hearing for the Power Plant and Ash Dyke area was held on July 30, 2010. The Expert Appraisal Committee (Thermal projects) recommended the project for clearance at its 74th meeting on May 20-21, 2013. As of July 20, 2013, the Ministry of Environment & Forests website had no mention of Environmental Clearance having been granted for the project.
Public hearing for the Captive jetty, port and coal stocking yard was held on December 27, 2011. The Expert Appraisal Committee (Infrastructure and CRZ) recommended the project for clearance at its 115th meeting held on August 16-17, 2012. The Ministry of Environment & Forests issued CRZ clearance for the project on November 30, 2012. Public hearing for the Power Plant and Ash Dyke area was held on July 30, 2010. The Expert Appraisal Committee (Thermal projects) recommended the project for clearance at its 74th meeting on May 20-21, 2013. As of July 20, 2013, the Ministry of Environment & Forests website had no mention of Environmental Clearance having been granted for the project.
Public hearing for the Captive jetty, port and coal stocking yard was held on December 27, 2011. The Expert Appraisal Committee (Infrastructure and CRZ) recommended the project for clearance at its 115th meeting held on August 16-17, 2012. The Ministry of Environment & Forests issued CRZ clearance for the project on November 30, 2012 [3]
The officials tried to allay the fears of farmers, stating that thorough environmental impact assessment reports were carried out and that there would be no threat of massive displacement. Fishermen could continue with their fishing activity [4]
The National Green Tribunal has restrained the project proponents of the proposed Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project in Kancheepuram off the East Coast Road from finalising bids for the works until further orders [5].

Sources & Materials

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

Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and resettlement Act 2013

COASTAL REGULATION ZONE (CRZ) AND REGULATING ACTIVITIES IN THE CRZ.
http://envfor.nic.in/legis/crz/crznew.html

http://dolr.nic.in/dolr/downloads/pdfs/Act_Land_Acqusiition_2013.pdf

[1] Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPP)
http://www.pfcindia.com/Content/UltraMegaPower.aspx

[2] Farmers seek to switch off power project at Cheyyur
http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Farmers-seek-to-switch-off-power-project-at-Cheyyur/2013/08/22/article1745618.ece

Cheyyur power project: people to move court against MoEF panel approval
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/cheyyur-power-project-people-move-court-against-moef-panel-approval

[4] Residents voice reservations against Cheyyur plant
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/residents-voice-reservations-against-cheyyur-plant/article5269318.ece?homepage=true

Cheyyur power project trips over environmental clearance
http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/cheyyur-power-project-trips-over-environmental-clearance-113112001126_1.html

[5] Cheyyur power plant bidding put on hold
http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/Cheyyur-power-plant-bidding-put-on-hold/2013/10/04/article1817904.ece

Residents voice reservations against Cheyyur plant
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/residents-voice-reservations-against-cheyyur-plant/article5269318.ece?homepage=true

Wannabe investors face protest
http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Wannabe-investors-face-protest/2013/10/24/article1852400.ece

RFQs issued for Bedabahal and Cheyyur UMPPs
http://www.cmie.com/kommon/bin/sr.php?kall=wclrdhtm&nvdt=20130926143347880&nvpc=099000000000&nvtype=TIDINGS

Environmental activists nail ‘lies' in report on Cheyyur plant
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/environmental-activists-nail-lies-in-report-on-cheyyur-plant/article5056321.ece

Cheyyur power project trips over environmental clearance
http://cheyyur.wordpress.com/tag/national-green-tribunal/

Cheyyur plant green nod challenged
http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/Cheyyur-plant-green-nod-challenged/2013/11/13/article1887805.ece

India Extends Bidding Dateline For Odisha, Tamil Nadu UMPPs
http://www.rttnews.com/2218729/india-extends-bidding-dateline-for-odisha-tamil-nadu-umpps.aspx?type=in&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=sitemap

Cheyyur blog
http://cheyyur.wordpress.com/

[3] Science, Non-Science and the Dubious Role of 'Experts' in Environmental Due Diligence: A Case Study of Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Plant, Tamil Nadu
http://www.sipcotcuddalore.com/downloads/Cheyyur_Lies_Report_August_2013.pdf

Cheyyur Power Plant will Contaminate Water Resources, Spread Cancer Agents - Research
http://www.ibtimes.co.in/cheyyur-power-plant-will-contaminate-water-resources-spread-cancer-agents-research-604467#.U8U_EwgXS_Q.facebook

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

India Insight: Why ultra-mega power projects have been a gross failure
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM5fdsbUfi8

Exposing the lies of Cheyyur power project
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQr5WI-Ibrg

Kaayal Kadhaigal (stories from the lagoon/ current affairs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81Pxd3A2YsE#t=1808

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019