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Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant, Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, India


The Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant (KTPP) is a Coal fired ther­mal power Plant, con­sist­ing of 6 Units of 210 MW each, situated on the right bank of the Rupnarayan river in the district of Purba Medinipur, West Bengal [1]. This power project first started during the sixth plan period (1980-85).

Now, the three units of the power plant which were commissioned in first stage are about 25 years old. Besides being low-productive the units are also highly polluting. The people in the adjoining villages are suffering from pollution caused by the plant in various ways. The plant had been using low-grade coal which produces large quantities of fly-ash. This fly ash destroyed vast tracts of agricultural land, polluting the air and many wetlands and water bodies had been filled up with the waste. Local people complain of breathing trouble. Plant waste has also choked irrigation canals in the area and caused acute water shortage [2].

The lack of treatment of the fly ash generated from this plant has been detrimental to the productivity and quality of the main commercial crops of the surrounding area and is also responsible for some changes in the land use patterns [1].

In October 2007, Greenpeace India activists scaled a 76 metre (250ft) smokestack spewing carbon dioxide at the Kolaghat coal fired power station. They paint the message "SMOKING KILLS" [3] The activists had been charged with criminal trespass and violation of the West Bengal Maintenance of Public Order Act of 1972. The West Bengal district court denied bail requests from the activists' who have been remanded in a correctional jail [4]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant, Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, India
State or province:West Bengal
Location of conflict:Town- Kolaghat; District-Purba Medinipur
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Land
Industrial waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

This power project was established during the sixth plan period (1980-85). At the beginning KTPP had only one 210 MW unit. The expansion took place in 1985 and another five 210MW units was added in two stages. Now the plant has a total of six units with a capacity of 1260 MW (210MW x 6).West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) is in charge of KTPP. The plant is located on the fertile land of over 900 acres. About 871.89 acres lie in the Panskura-II block and the rest in the Sahid Matangini block, Tamluk [1]

WBPDCL has decided to rebuild the aged three units with a total capacity 630 MW at its Kolaghat thermal plant with an estimated investment of Rs 1000 crore. West Bengal government is in talks with World Bank for partial funding of the project-cost. WBPDCL is likely to float the tender for the project by early 2014. It would take about two years to complete the project. The project officials expect that the three units will be operative again by 2017[5].

In 2010, local section of the Trinamool party agitated mobilizations by local people to demand jobs on the ground their lands were acquired long time ago.

Project area:364
Level of Investment:166,290,950
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:30/09/2001
Company names or state enterprises:West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd (WBPDCL) from India - Establishment and Maintenance
Relevant government actors:Government of West Bengal, West Bengal Pollution Control Board
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:KTPS Paribesh Dushan Pratirodh Committee, Krishak Sangram Parishad, Green Peace India

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
In October 2007 Greenpeace India activists scaled a 76 metre (250ft) smokestack spewing carbon dioxide at the Kolaghat coal fired power station, to paint the message "SMOKING KILLS".


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, 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, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:According to Greenpeace India activists coal fired power plants is a deadly project and Indian government needs to get away from it immediately. They stressed on the fact that carbonized growth path will be suicidal not only for the health of the country but for the entire planet [3].
According to a research by Dasgupta and Paul (2011), The KTPP authority should take the following measures to improve environment of the surrounding areas.
Power Plant should plant more trees surrounding the ash ponds.
The cultivation of flowers such as sunflower, China rose is possible on the ash mixed soil. The plant authority may employ some private agencies to examine the possibility of cultivation of such flowers on some parts of ash pond by making a layer of soil on it. If it is possible, it will be extremely helpful to stabilize the ash on the ash pond.
The technological development on ash disposal and management in different developed countries should be taken into consideration for examining its feasibility in India.
The spreading of ash during the time of transportation and must lay down strict rules and regulations so that private agencies must take precaution while transporting dry ash from one place to another failing which they should be penalized.
There must be some long term planning of the plant authority regarding the clearing of the sediments and deposit these away from the river so that the navigability of the river increases and can be maintained throughout the year [1]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:According to WBPCB, the fly ash generated from the power plant has seriously damaged the local economic activities and river ecology. It has observed that the pollutants from the plants has forced many local farmers to abandon their agricultural activities and sell their lands to others. The land character has been changed over the years and if this trend continues for some more years, the region will face difficulty in perusing profitable economic activities and hardship of the people will increase. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has forfeited the caution money deposited by Kolaghat Thermal Power Station. This money has taken as penalty for not taking adequate measures to arrest the process of spreading of fly ashes to the surrounding area. WBPCB Has suggested application of better technology in controlling the emission of fly ash and more afforestation in the surrounding area in order to absorb considerable fly ash [1]
Six protesting Greenpeace volunteers were arrested and they granted bail in October 2007 [3]

Sources & Materials

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

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act

The air (prevention and control of pollution) act, 1981

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Arindam Dasgupta and Suman Paul (2011) Fly Ash and its Impact on Land: A Case Study of Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant, Purba Medinipur, West Bengal Vol. II No. 2 pp 1-12

Mandal, A and Sengupta, D. (2003) Radioelemental study of Kolaghat, thermal power plant, West Bengal, India: possible environmental hazards. Environmental Geology June 2003, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 180-186

[2] Peasants protest Kolaghat power plant pollution

[5] Bengal to invest Rs 1000 cr in rebuilding Kolaghat power plant

"Trinamool workers gherao Kolaghat thermal plant, demand jobs for acquired land"

[3] Smoking kills - Kolaghat coal plant protest

[4] Greenpeace climate activists refused bail in India, as Al Gore and IPCC win Nobel Peace Prize for raising global climate awareness

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Kolaghat Thermal Power Station - West Bengal

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019



Smoking kills - Kolaghat coal plant protest