A local eco-restoration initiative developed to transform wastelands into a dense community forest in the Kalpavalli region is being harmed by the Nallajonda Wind Farm Project, an investment of Tadas Wind Energy Limited. The restoration initiative started in 1990 with the Timbaktu Collective and local villagers of Anantpur district in Andhra Pradesh, consisting in the reforestation and enhancing of traditional livelihoods of the Kalpavalli area. Such scheme became a model for successful joint forest management, watershed development and the creation of sustainable forest based livelihoods. The Nallajonda Wind Farm comprises 63 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 50.4 MW. The project was initiated in 2007 when the company bought around 49 acres of reforested “wasteland” and started building roads for the installation of windmills. Although the Indian Government does not require submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for wind power projects, neighboring communities have identified environmental impacts such as deforestation, heavy land degradation and biodiversity loss. Local water bodies are being negatively affected as well. According to Carbon Market Watch, these significant negative environmental and social impacts have been completely omitted in the project documents although the area has been recognized as biodiversity rich Community Conserved Area (CCA) in the CCA directory of India by Neema Pathak Broome. Organizations such as the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development have also claimed that wind power infrastructure activities destroyed the former restoration efforts on the area.
According to an article published in the Times of India (Jun-6-2012), Tadas Wind Energy paid villagers a meagre compensation and offered small jobs at the windmills that were installed. N Gopalaswamy, a resident of Kalpavalli village then said that "Villagers had to give them water tankers from forest streams. Animal husbandry collapsed because the grasslands were destroyed." Further, livelihood opportunities have been impacted. "We made grass brooms, sold dates and toddy (palm wine), now all have gone down. The company has to compensate for this loss." (Times of India, Jun-6-2012).
The company also submitted the project at the UNFCCC to receive carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism. If approved, it is expected that the project result into 100,135 tCO2e of annual average emission reduction. However, local NGOs have claimed that approval process requires a thorough stakeholder consultation process, including a local stakeholder consultation where local communities are consulted about the project. They stated that it was only when the roads needed to be constructed that a process of involving the community was followed. When concern was raised about the effect on the cattle grazing, villagers were assured that the project would not have any impact on grazing. Organizations such as Carbon Watch have also stated that additionality is needed for this CDM to continue. Since 2013 the CDM project is being under revision and if approved, it will receive 360,000 carbon credits.
During 2013 the Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development raised the issues with this project to the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests (DNA), the Andhra Pradesh State Government, the Windenergy company, the UNFCCC and the CDM project auditors (DOE). The Kalpavalli CBO, Timbaktu Collactive and SPWD New Delhi have also launched a public interest litigation (PIL) and the case was filed at the Green Tribunal of India. "To understand the eco-services of Kalpavalli forest in terms of life-support system and also to understand the impacts of operations of the numerous wind energy projects that have come up in Kalpavalli region, SPWD (Society for the Promotion of Wasteland Development) conducted a detailed study. Line transects were laid in different habitats like wetland, valley, hilltops, streams, cliffs, dense and degraded patches, grass patches, sacred groves, paddy fields, date palm groves, spring proximities, wind-mill operation areas (in Kalpavalli), the adjoining Guttur reserve forest, gold-mine dumps of Ramagiri, and other open areas." (Leena Gupta, 2013). Notice the presence of Sacred Groves.
The SPWD demanded: Restoration of the damage caused by the construction of roads.
Compensation for the loss of the livelihood potential due to the restricted grazing access and loss of other livelihoods from Non Timber Forest Produce.
Consideration of the local community as the primary stakeholder for the preservation of the biodiversity which includes many rare and endangered species having world-wide significance.
Providing a mandatory provision of Environment Impact Assessment ( EIA) and Social Impact Assessment ( SIA) for the construction of windmills which would ensure that there is a proper assessment of the potential damage before giving permission to the windmill company.
Rejection of the request for registration as CDM project by the UNFCCC Executive board due to breach of local stakeholder consultation rules.
Last news on this case date from 2014 and it seems that the Project is ongoing. As Janaki Lenin wrote on the Hindu (10/2014): “While wind energy is celebrated as a sustainable source of power, a green energy, here in Anantapur, wind farms have come at a cost to the community forest. Wind power companies hacked wide roads around hillsides, destroying the trenches villagers built to arrest the flow of rainwater and toppling two-decade-old trees. Since retaining walls haven’t been built, boulders and loose soil sit precariously”.