New thermal power plant causes protests in Udangudi, Tamil Nadu

Reported by

Hariprasad Radhakrishnan

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Updated on

June 22, 2022

Location of Conflict

Udangudi

Thoothukudi

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Environmental/Ecological Damage

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

19738

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1600

ha

Starting Year

2018

State

Tamil Nadu

Sector

Land Use

Despite resistance from local communities, the Tamil Nadu government is going ahead with the implementation of Udangudi Thermal Power Plant (TPP) project in Thoothukudi district of the state. A Memorandum of Understanding for the project was signed in 2007 between the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi and the Union Minister for Heavy Industries, Santosh Mohan Deb.

In 2018, when the project was revived, a large number of fishermen held protests over the construction of a coal jetty in Kallamoli coastal village for transporting coal to the Udangudi TPP. However, protests have muted since then. Dr SJ Gayes, president of the Thoothukudi Country Boat Fishermen Association, told LCW that the AIADMK government at the time secured written consent from fishermen who were politically affiliated with the regime at the time. "There was no public consultation with local communities. When ships start coming to the jetty, fishermen would not be allowed in the area. Even now, we are not allowed within 500 metres of the coal jetty. The presence of a coal jetty will ward off the fish, and our livelihoods will be affected," he said.

According to Gaves, one of the main occupations in Udangudi -- palm cultivation -- would also be affected. "A tapper has to cut the palm flower thrice a day to collect the sap. But when the power plant starts to function, it will be covered with fly ash. Banana plantations, which are also found in the area, would be adversely affected because of the fly ash," said Gaves. He added that lakhs of pilgrims who visit the famous Tiruchendur and Mutharamman temples would also be affected by the pollution.

B. Ramkumar Adityan, an advocate had also filed a writ petition in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court as a public interest litigation urging the court to abandon the construction of coal jetty. But the court dismissed his plea in 2019, stating it could not find in the plea any evidence displaying adverse impacts of the coal jetty on livelihood of fishermen.

In 2021, an analysis conducted by Climate Risk Horizons found that the project would add Rs 15-20,000 crore to the debt burden of the State between 2024 and 2030.

In May 2022, activist Medha Patkar flagged several violations in the project. She said that the environmental clearance and impact assessment were done for only 800MW x 2 and not for the subsequent expansion. Further, she noted that Social Impact Assessment, which is required under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2013, was not conducted for the 607 acres of land that was acquired by the Tamil Nadu government for stages II and III of the project.

As of June 2022, the stage I of the power plant is under construction and is expected to be completed by 2024. There is a further plan for constructing two more stages of the project.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to cancel the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common and Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

9752

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

83

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
Section 19 [State Government to declare certain areas as air pollution control areas and prohibit use of fuel/ burning of material in such areas], Section 21 [Industrial Plants operating in air pollution control areas to seek consent of State Pollution Control Board prior to operating the plant]
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
Section 25 [No person, without prior consent of State Pollution Control Board, to establish any industry which is likely to discharge sewage or trade effluent into water body]
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Rule 6(e) [The Union government may make rules to prohibit or restrict location of industries in different areas to check environmental pollution]
Electricity Act, 2003
Rule 6(e) [The Union government may make rules to prohibit or restrict location of industries in different areas to check environmental pollution]
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 2016
Section 4 [This section provides for preparation of Social Impact Assessment study prior to land acquisition]
Environment Protection Rules, 1986
Rule 5 [Prohibitions and restrictions on the location of industries and the carrying on processes and operations in different areas]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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:

Violation of environmental laws

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Madras High Court

Case Number

W.P.(MD)No.8580 of 2019, W.M.P.(MD)No.6696 of 2019

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

A writ petition was filed in 2019 before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in the matter. The grievance put forth in the writ was that the fishermen community in Tiruchendur feared that their moving boats may hit the foundation of the coal jetty in case of unexpected heavy winds. Further, the construction of the coal jetty will damage marine ecology. On April 10, 2019, the Court disposed of the case, stating that it could not find any adverse impacts affecting the livelihood of the fishermen community. The court stated that the petitioner had only gathered information through the internet and no particular legal injury to any section of the public could be found.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Strikes

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco), Udangudi Power Corporation, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
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