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Good news from Vidarbha

Farmers ready to give up land for a 1,000MW plant that may solve Maharashtra’s power woes, reports Dharmendra Jore.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2008 22:54 IST
Dharmendra Jore

While the agitation against land acquisition for a Tata Motors plant in Singur refuses to die down and 22 villages in Raigad await the result of a referendum on whether their land should be acquired for a special economic zone, Mouda in Vidarbha has chosen a different path.

Farmers’ representatives in Nagpur district’s Mouda tehsil have okayed the compensation package for the acquisition of 1,738 acres for a National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant that will generate 1,000 MW of power.

The 947 farmers who will give up land will get Rs 8 lakh per acre. In case of a dispute, that number could rise. Work on the plant will begin after the first 200 acres are acquired.

Maharashtra has a daily shortfall of 4,000 MW, leading to power cuts that last several hours in many areas. The plant, expected to be functional in three years, will take care of a huge chunk of this deficit.

Planners are hoping Vidarbha will transform the power-starved state into a power-surplus one in the next five years, banking on natural resources like coal and water. Several projects, with a total capacity of 13,500 MW, have been planned in Vidarbha, which accounts for over 60 per cent of the state’s power generation.

Local Shiv Sena MP Prakash Jadhav said: “NTPC has assured finance for youths wishing to start businesses in the area. It has also promised to reserve some areas for such people in its residential colonies. We’re happy with the deal.”

Legislator Ashish Jaiswal said NTPC has assured that it would consider further demands. “We’re happy with their initial response and we will support them fully,” he said.

Senior NTPC officials refused to comment, but a source in the company said they anticipated less trouble after the farmers’ in-principle approval. “The company has decided to take a holistic view of the demands. The farmers are supportive,” said the source.