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 .
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].