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)



Starting Year



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.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Stalling construction of Uppur thermal power plant

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):


Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?


When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation of land-reform laws , Use of old/outdated laws , Controversial land acquisition by the government

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Madras High Court, Supreme Court

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest


Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

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

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Reliance Infrastructure, Larsen and Toubro

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Land Conflict Watch

Reviewed By

Land Conflict Watch

Updated By

Land Conflict Watch

Edited By

Land Conflict WatchLand Conflict Watch

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