Public Hearing on the proposed 1820 MW Coal Based Power Plant by M/s. Tridem Port and Power Co. Ltd.,& 150 MW Coal Based Power Plant by M/s. Nagapattinam Energy Pvt. Ltd. 30.10.2009 at Karapidagai Village, Kilvelur Taluk, Nagapattinam District of Tamilnadu.

The Collector of Nagapattinam District          &         Officials of Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board.

Respected Representatives of the Government of Tamilnadu

 On the eve of the public hearing on the proposed1820 MW Coal Based Power Plant by M/s. Tridem Port and Power Co. Ltd., & 150 MW Coal Based Power Plant by M/s. Nagapattinam Energy Pvt. Ltd, we are submitting our views to oppose the coal based thermal power plants.

We would like to bring to your notice that within Union Cabinet there is difference of opinion which came to public light after The Hindu, a daily carried out the following news:

▼ The Hindu, English daily reported on July 5 th of 2009 that Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh has written to Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde seeking to put an end to laying of foundation stones for projects without proper and formal clearances and advising all state power PSUs like National Thermal Power Corporation, National Hydro Power Corporation , Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation to show greater sensitivity to environmental concerns at the highest level.

Under such situation we would urge the Nagapattinam District Administration and Tamil nadu Government to have a re-think on all coal based thermal power projects.

▼  Recent news from our neighbor China as reported in China Daily dated October 28 th of 2009 states that Chinese Environment ministry had suspended or rejected 29 applications of new construction in petrochemical, steel-making and electricity-generating industries with a total investment of 146.7 billion yuan (US$21.5 billion).Chinese government has promised that its economic stimulus plan would not compromise anti-pollution efforts and policies would not be loosened to allow more projects to pass environmental examinations. Environmental Protection Minister Zhou Shengxian said the government would abide by strict environmental standards when evaluating new projects.

Unfortunately Tamilnadu is not observing strict environmental standards. It craves for power at all costs. 

►Tamilnadu has 4 major thermal power plants producing 2970 MW of power. The Hindu, daily dated 6 th February 2009 carries a confession by the Chairman of Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board. Mr.R.Balakrishnan admits that thermal power plants in coastal areas of the state are not meeting pollution control standards. If truth could come out of Chairman’s mouth, our voices in protesting power plants stands justified by international, national and regional yardsticks.

 ► Thermal Power Plant in Tuticurin, a joint venture between Neyveli Lignite Corporation 89% and Tamilnadu Electricity Board with 11% stake is a 4000 crore project aiming to generate 1000 MW. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited and Tamilnadu Electricity Board have joined together to start 1600 MW power project at a cost of Rs.8700 crore in Tuticurin District.

The coal from Neyveli has to be carried by congested roads to Tuticurion. It can be argued that it goes within our state from one part to other. Also by sea route coal may get transported. One can say within the source of raw material i.e. our state power project comes up.

Even this could be assimilated for argument sake but not bringing 4.6 million tons of coal annually from Orissa to Ennore port in order to enable Tamilnadu Energy Company, a joint venture between National Thermal Power Corporation and Tamilnadu Electricity Board to generate 1000 MW at Vallur in Tiruvallore District of Tamilnadu. The cost is 4500 crores. 

█There is a national policy to set up power plants near mine heads, where coal is mined. Under such policy instead of bringing coal from Orissa to Ennore, Tamilnadu could have planned to set up power plant in Orissa and pass on power to national grid and then draw equal quantum here through national grid. By this way Tamilnadu could have had power as well as avoided unnecessary construction of new harbors and unnecessary pollution of our soil.

Mind boggling statistics reveals that Ashok Leyland Project, First Corp Petrochem project, UTL Utility Systems project, Essar Power, GMR Power, Trichy Power Project and Coal and Oil Company of Dubai’s project which have planned to produce 1000 MW power each could be avoided if the policy to set power projects at mine head is observed. After all even if power projects are set up same Orissa and Bihar labour have to be brought to work here, since all industries of Tamilnadu and Puducherry uniformly follow a policy to engage only Orissa and Bihar labour and never to disturb local labour from watching free television and eating Rs 1 per kg rice given by noble leader Dr.Kalaignar.

Empee Power and Infrastructure Ltd aim generation of 1200 MW. A company from Spain aims 2000 MW. Then comes the 4000 MW power project by National Thermal Power Corporation near Thirukuvalai, Chief Minister Dr.Kalaignar’s birth place. Central University coming in his home district is welcome but not polluting industries. The rice bowl of Tamilnadu should have agro-based industries and should promote agriculture and fisheries, the traditional people pursuing these professions for centuries or millennium. Similarly 2000 MW power project near Cheyyur also will erase the ecology of Kaluveli tank; a place of haven for migratory birds, and the tourism potential of ECR road will have to be wiped out to dump fly ash everywhere, congesting roads with coal transport.

We urge the Tamilnadu Government to re-think its energy policy. The Memorandum of Understanding signed with Tri-Sakthi Energy P Ltd for 525 MW of power. India Power project, SPIC Energy Private Limited, Chennai Power Company etc for 1000 MW each and Cuddalore Thermal Power Project to generate 1320 MW too are coal based. Reliance plans 3000 MW power project. All these projects are coal based environmental hazards. 

☼☼►Dravida Peravai lauds only 2 initiatives of Tamil Nadu Power Minister. The Memorandum of Understanding signed with an American firm for generating sea solar power is welcome. The Project that comes in Udangudi of Tuticurin District to generate 100 MW of Solar Thermal Power is welcome. As on January 31st of 2009 out of total national production of 9756 MW of wind energy Tamilnadu produces 42 percent and this is a good development. We whole heartedly welcome these solar, wind, and ocean thermal power projects. But we oppose the Coal based Thermal Power projects that are coming up in Nagapattinam Districts, for which this public enquiry is called for.

►National Thermal Power Corporation of India is pumping 500 million US dollars in a joint venture with Ceylon Electricity Board to set up a power project at Sampur in Srilanka. India that could not ensure safety sail for Indian fishermen in Bay of Bengal more particularly in Gulf of Mannar and Pak Straits is going to ferry coal to Srilanka from Orissa. From Anuradhapura in Srilanka to Thalaimannar of Tamilnadu both India and Srilanka had planned under sea link to transmit power at a cost of Rs 2200 crore. India that for 30 years had not linked its rivers to help Indian farmers, but now wants to link Srilanka and Tamilnadu by under sea link to bring power to boost the growth of all polluting industries in Tamil soil. If India had annexed Tamil areas of Srilanka and merged North and East Districts of Srilanka with Tamilnadu and created a Tamilnadu State within Indian Union on both sides of Pak Straits, then such link between Tamil states may be welcomed but not the current project.

► Dravida Peravai mooted an idea when the undersigned was Trustee in Tuticurin Port Trust, and took up with Planning Commission and through then Defence Minister Comrade George Fernandes apprised then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the need to create a National Seaway Authority like National Highways. Every state government has minor and intermediary ports under its control but they are idle monuments with no revenue generation with the exception of Gujarat’s minor ports. Hence to interlink these 138 minor and intermediary ports for passenger and cargo traffic, creation of such authority is must, we suggested. Accepting that during his visit to Kanyakumari, then Prime Minister announced Sagar Mala scheme for this purpose, which is yet to take off. We now also urge Indian Government and Tamilnadu Government to go for reviving that idea, to use existing harbors for passenger and cargo traffic, thereby creating jobs for educated fishermen coming out of maritime university. It will ease traffic congestion in roads. Unfortunately the regular hidden incomes through frequent laying of roads will be the only loss to the officials and political bosses. Instead of using Sagar mala scheme to purposefully use existing harbours there seems to be a craze to allow harbours under private only to ferry coal to coal based power plants. This ridiculous policy causes the new creation of Ports in Nagapattinam District which we oppose.

▼Tamilnadu must give clearance to biomass power plants. Times of India dated 29 th October 2009 states that 9 companies have approached Tamilnadu Energy Development Agency for permissions to start biomass power plants. Tamilnadu Electricity Board must give clearance for these 9 companies to generate 487 MW of power. The speed with which clearances came for coal based power projects is lacking here, that too for small quantum of power, which can be termed as tokenism too TN Government lacks political will. The biomass energy produced currently is 111 MW writes Vivek Narayanan in Times of India. Hence according clearances for clean energy is must in days when we sing lullabies on climate change.

▼If India has to reduce its carbon emissions; it would mean a major reorientation of her energy strategy, especially if that warranted a shift from its current coal-based to an oil and gas based energy system. Murthy, Panda and Parikh (2000) examined the consequences of alternative CO2 emission reduction strategies on economic development and, in particular, the implications for the poor by empirically implementing an economy-wide model across India over a 35-year time horizon. A multi-sectoral, inter-temporal model is used for this purpose. The model has specific technological alternatives and endogenous income distribution with dynamic behavior; it covers the whole economy in an integrated top-down-bottom-up model. Such alternative thinking must dawn on Tamilnadu Government.

▼International Seabed Authority under the auspices of United Nations has earmarked 1,50,000 square kilometers of sea bed in Indian Ocean for mining of cobalt, nickel , copper etc. We are not aware whether any such area is earmarked in Bay of Bengal. If the pursuit to mine sea-bed begins apart from natural gas to minerals, the traditional living sources of fishermen will be totally robbed from them. Even after Exclusive Economic Zones have been earmarked under International Law of Seas by United Nations, the fishermen of India particularly Tamil fishermen could not tap the fish wealth in their countries exclusive zones. Foreign fishing vessels creep in, sneak in, and poach in our zones, and fishermen with catamarans cannot compete. Fish wealth is near their eyes yet their country allows sharks from other nations to rob that instead of arming Indian fishermen with finances and schemes to make a better livelihood. The policy to uproot people from their traditional professions is suicidal, cynical, unethical and anti-national. Yet hand in glove with corporate world that greases their palms for petty gains and better lives today, our political masters are ruining traditional fishermen and agriculturalists depriving them a decent livelihood, thus earning a historical curse on them for their historical blunder.

▼ In precious stone rich Jharkand and Orissa, mining of this wealth which remained in the bowels of earth over which indigenous tribal peoples lived for millions of years is bartered to corporate world. Dravida Peravai had incorporated in its party manifesto that if a dam is constructed or project is set up uprooting people, such uprooted people and all villagers over which these projects come up must be made share holders in the projects that come up. Share the profits with the displaced people, compensate permanently elevating the lives of the deprived than throwing paltry pittance to political class, companies must be told. This includes the harbour and power project that comes up in Nagapattinam District. If a power project comes in Chief Ministers home village, all its villagers must be made share holders in that projects, all the jobs must be given to every educated youth forbidding total hiring of outsiders, and if talent is needed it should be only from Tamilnadu. No contracts labour system, because Chief Minister’s home village must emulate a national model for development. Let Tamilnadu plan projects that will not aggravate our climate change. Let Tamilnadu go for clean technologies to generate power like Sweden. If our Chief Minister cannot make Tamilnadu a Sweden in energy, a cleaner Singapore in environment, then no one else in India can envisage and transform people’s lives.

With Regards Yours fraternally

N.Nandhivarman General Secretary Dravida Peravai