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Power project’s expansion plan hits green hurdle

The Korba district administration has cancelled the public hearing for the Lanco group’s thermal power plant expansion plan as the company is facing massive protests for its alleged indifference to environmental concerns. Protest

india Updated: Oct 31, 2011 01:04 IST
Ejaz Kaiser

The Korba district administration has cancelled the public hearing for the Lanco group’s thermal power plant expansion plan as the company is facing massive protests for its alleged indifference to environmental concerns.

The hearing had been convened to seek environment clearance for expanding the capacity of the company’s thermal power project by 1,320 MW from the existing 1,920 MW.

"The locals had bad experience with Lanco as (it) didn’t adhere to what (it) had pledged. There were around 700 disenchanted people who furiously protested even before the procedure of the public hearing could begin. I had to abandon it," additional collector Abhay Mishra, who was to conduct the hearing, told HT. The attitude of the Korba-based office of the Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board too was negative. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/311011/31_10_pg14b.jpg

“Lanco’s attitude towards the environment was apathetic and uncaring in Korba, which is already listed as the (fifth-most) critically polluted region in the country. Worse, even before the public hearing the company management should have taken the local population into confidence, which they appeared to have failed,” said BS Thakur, the board’s regional officer.

“The company didn’t meet the expectations of local villagers to ensure suitable employment and also not appropriately compensated the fixed rate (amount) to several whose land were acquired,” Thakur added.

The officials said the company would not be getting another opportunity for a public hearing in the district, 225 km north of Raipur, before 2013.

However, the company has refuted such allegations. “People were protesting because of the already existing industrial clusters in the area. All possible employment opportunities were given to locals and suitable compensation awarded for land. To say that we are negligent towards the environment is an attempt to defame us,” Dushyant Kumar Tiwari, public relations officer of the company, told HT.

However, the situation on the ground is not encouraging for Lanco. Dhaneshwari Kanwar, a woman sarpanch of Barpali village in Korba, said people were in no mood to part with land.