Madras HC Stays Construction of Uppur Thermal Plant Citing Defunct Land Laws

Reported by

Land Conflict WatchLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

March 21, 2020

Location of Conflict



Naganenthal, Valamavoor, Thiruppalaikudi, Morepannai


Reason or Cause of Conflict

Thermal Power Plant



People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)




Tamil Nadu



A super critical coal thermal power plant, with a capacity of 1,600 megawatt, was proposed in Ramanathapuram district in 2011 by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). The plant was approved by the state the same year. While TANGEDCO is the executing agency, it has contracted Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited for the Boiler, Turbine and Generators project; Larsen and Toubro for the sea water intake and outfall project; and Reliance Infrastructure to implement the remaining project activities. The plant construction demands acquisition of agricultural and coastal land and proposes to draw sea water through an eight-kilometre pipeline, which would act as a coolant for the thermal unit. In 2014, public consultation for the proposed project was held, in which individuals and members of various organisations, including the Coastal Action Network, an advocacy and research foundation, expressed their opposition to the construction of the power plant, citing potential damage to agricultural lands, fishing hamlets, mangrove forests and marine life in the Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve. They say land acquisition for the project will affect the livelihoods of both farmers and fisherfolk.
The project received clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in May 2016 and construction began in July that year. Community collectives - Anti-Uppur Thermal Power Station Struggle Committee and Anaithu Vivasayigal Paadhukappu Nala Sangam - protested to stall the construction. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court issued a stay order on the construction of the plant, citing that land for the project was acquired using defunct land laws and not according to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013. However, despite the stay order, in the beginning of 2018, a 1.25-kilometre stretch of the proposed pipeline was constructed, which led to further protests** **by the fishing community in June 2018. Land Conflict Watch got in touch with a member of the Ramanathapuram district fishing community workers union group (a unifying body for all the 119 fishing villages in the district) and with an environmentalist from Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental organisation, to gather insights about the ground situation. At present, project activities have been temporarily suspended following the stay order. TANGEDCO has appealed to the Supreme Court to consider the land acquired for the project as legal as construction has already started. The project completion date has now been revised to December 2020.

Region Classification


Type of Land


Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):


Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):



Starting Year


Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Stalling construction of Uppur thermal power plant

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Reliance Infrastructure, Larsen and Toubro

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?


When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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