Villagers in Balangir, Odisha Oppose Proposed Thermal Power Plant by Sahara Limited

Reported by

Sibasish Ray

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 2, 2016

September 2, 2016

Updated on

September 2, 2016

Location of Conflict

Titlagarh

Balangir

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Thermal Power Plant

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

243

ha

Starting Year

2009

State

Odisha

Sector

Power

Sahara India Power Corpation, in partnership with Korea East- West Power, planned to set up a 1,320 MW coal-based thermal power plant in Titlagarh in Odisha's Balangir district. The company had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Odisha on February 7, 2009, and also a supplementary MoU on April 9, 2010, for a change of site from Tusra to Titliagarh tehsil after the original site was found to be unsuitable.
The company decided to set up two 660 MW super critical units at a cost of Rs 8,000 crore. Of the total 812.25 acres needed for the project, 510.73 acres had already been acquired. After the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project was completed, they submitted an application for the grant of a final environment clearance for the power plant to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
The construction of the proposed thermal power plant generated considerable anxiety within the local community, especially those engaged in farming. They have regularly opposed it since 2009. The President of Sahara Power Bistapan Birodhi Mancha, a community movement opposing the power plant, Balakrushna Shendh, believes that apart from displacing people from their farmlands and disrupting their daily subsistence, the project will also make the villages warmer. Titlagarh is known to record rather high temperatures in the summer. He also adds that it will impact the lives and health of the local community. The company would need to acquire around 600 acres of private land, he said. In 2015, petitioners approached the Odisha High Court against land acquisition for the project. The Court, however, upheld the land acquisition in December the same year (see Main Reasoning/Decision of the Court).
In 2018, the Sahara Power Plant Corporation announced its plan to scrap the 1320mw thermal plant project and instead proceed with a 200mw solar and wind power plant in the area. LCW had reached out to Shri Mahajan Manoj Satyawan, Sub Collector, Titilagarh, in April, 2021 for a response. He informed LCW that he was unable to provide any relevant information at the moment.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Opposition against environmental degradation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

8000

Type of investment:

Investment Made

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Section 2(i) [Prior Environmental Clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to be obtained for thermal power plants]; Section 7(i)(III) [Public consultation with local affected persons regarding environmental impact of project]
Environment Protection Rules, 1986
Rule 5(1)(vii) [Net adverse impact by the project to be taken into consideration before grant of environmental clearance]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(i) [The Gram Sabha shall be consulted before making any acquisition of land in Scheduled Areas for development projects]
Land Acquisition Act, 1894
Section 4 [When land in any locality is required for a public purpose, a notification shall be published in the Official Gazette and in two daily local newspapers]
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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.

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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?

Demand for scrapping thermal power plant project and refusal to give up land for the said project.

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Demand for scrapping thermal power plant project and refusal to give up land for the said project.

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Violation of environmental laws

Violation of free prior informed consent

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

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)

Orissa High Court

Case Number

W.P. (C) NO.S.10431 of 2012

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The petitioners approached the High Court claiming that the process of land acquisition had been vitiated since there was insufficient notice given as per Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. They also contented that the Act only applies to land acquisitions made for a public purpose and does not cover land that is acquired by a company. With respect to the first argument, the court held that there must have been adequate notice of the land acquisition process to the villagers since the Collector had received close to a 100 objections to the process. The notification was published in two local newspapers and there was no breach of any statutory provisions. The court further held that the expression "public purpose" is very wide and all the benefits accruing from industrialization should be taken into consideration. It was held that the proposed power plant would help produce electricity for the surrounding villages and also provide employment to the local people, thereby fulfilling a public purpose. The land acquisition process was thus upheld.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Yes

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

The Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation

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:

Sahara India Power Corporation Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Residents of Ghantbaahali, Luthurbandh Pudapadar, Saagunmunda Mahada, Jamojore

Resources Related to Conflict

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

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