Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

AVESH TIWARI@PatrikaNews | 7 June 2016

Have you heard of the Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt? This region at the cusp of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is billed by many as India’s energy capital. What nobody talks of is how this belt is on the brink of a disaster that can match the Bhopal disaster.Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

The methyl isocyanate leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal led to India’s biggest industrial disaster on 2 December, 1984. Such was the scale of the leak that horror stories haven’t stop coming out three decades on. But have we learnt any lesson?

Doesn’t seem so if we look at Sonbhadra-Singrauli. The 40 square-kilometre area hosts some half-a-dozen power plants – both coal-fired and hydro-electric. Their combined capacity of about 21,000 megawatts (MW) cater to a large part of the country.

Now private groups such as Reliance, Lanco and Essar as well as state-owned utilities are set to add 20,000 MW more by setting up several projects in the next five years.

The belt also houses several other industries like an aluminum, chemical and carbon factories of the Birlas and a cement factory owned by the Jaypee Group.

But these impressive numbers tell just one side of the story.

FARMER TRAGEDIES
The Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt is also known for the plight of its farmers whose land has been ruined by mining and limestone.

This region is also home to over five lakh Adivasis. In fact, Sonbhadra is the only district of Uttar Pradesh where tribals are in a majority.

However, the fruits of industrial activity have barely reached these people with most of them find it difficult to make ends meet.

The region is traversed by eight small rivers. With the area accounting for nearly 16% of the total carbon emission in the country, it is of little surprise that all the river waters are completely polluted.

In other words, every inch of this land is prone to a catastrophe like Bhopal. The greed of industrialists, politicians and bureaucrats is not the only reason for this risk.

The media is equally to blame for this state of affairs. It will highlight Sonbhadra-Singrauli’s issues only after a disaster. Otherwise, it is happy to look the other way.

Enrico Fabian for The Washington Post via Getty Images
POISON FACTORY
The chloro chemicals division of Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd, located at Renukoot, produces some of the most dangerous substances for industrial use. It was acquired by the Aditya Birla group in 2011 at a cost of Rs 830 crore.

It is estimated that the waste produced by this factory kills 40-50 people every year on average. Most of this waste is released directly into the Rihand dam. And the effect is telling on the surrounding population.

Thousands of residents in hundreds of villages around the Rihand Dam have been completely or partially crippled.

“Waste from the Kanoria Chemicals factory at Renukoot kills 40-50 people every year on an average”
In December 2011, 20 people of the Kamari Dand village in Sonbhadra district lost their lives after using the water from the Rihand Dam. Thousands of cattle had also met with the same fate.

Investigations proved that the chemicals released from the Kanoria Chemicals Factory had poisoned the water. Yet, the issue did not attract enough media attention.

Earlier, a gas leak from the Kanoria plant had killed five people in January 2005. The accident reportedly occurred because of the negligence of company officials.

Villages after village in Sonbhadra are falling prey to the fatal disease of Fluorosis, a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine compounds.

There is hardly a person in villages like Padwa Kodawari and Kusumha, who has not been afflicted with some of kind of physical deformity due to this disease.

HAZARD CALLED MERCURY
The power plants of Sonbhadra-Singrauli emit 1.5 tonnes of fly ash every year. This fly ash is composed of mercury that is extremely harmful to the human body. Traces of mercury have been found in the samples of human hair, blood and even crops of this region.

The locals have no option but to live with the impact of this pollution. The sun here is paled with the dust coming out of towering chimneys. A blanket of haze engulfs the air as soon as the evening sets in.

The pollution has not even spared the still-to-be-born babies. The death of children during the pre-pregnancy period has become a regular occurrence.

Yet, the state-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without any environmental clearance. The Central Pollution Control Board has ordered a close down stating they are ‘too dangerous.’

“State-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without environmental clearance”
However, nobody seems baffled with such blatant flouting of norms. The seeds of a Bhopal-like tragedy are being sown, not only in Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt but in every corner of the country.

The state as well as the Union Government is avoiding accountability in the name of development. For now, the Sonbhadra-Singrauli region is nothing more than a hen laying golden eggs for them.

While one Warren Anderson may have gotten away, there are many more in the making.

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/sonbhadra-singrauli-belt-is-called-india-s-power-capital-but-may-be-headed-for-a-disaster-1465284694.html

रिलायंस पॉवर ने दी पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी को धमकी , 434 करोड़ रुपये दो नहीं तो 300 मेगावाट बिजली नहीं देंगे

घुमंतू संवाददाता | जबलपुर

सासन पावर ने एमपीपीएमसीएल को थमाया नोटिस

रिलायंस ने मप्र पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी (एमपीपीएमसीएल) को धमकी दी है कि – यदि उसने 434 करोड़ रुपए का जल्द भुगतान नहीं किया तो वह उसकी निर्धारित सप्लाई तीन सौ मेगावाट घटा देगा। रिलायंस के सासन पावर ने इस बाबत अपने सबसे बड़े प्रोक्यूरर एमपीपीएमसीएल को नोटिस भी भेजा है। एमपीपीएमसीएल के प्रबंध संचालक संजय शुक्ला ने इसकी पुष्टि करते हुए कहा है कि – सासन पावर का यह नोटिस दबाव की राजनीति के सिवाय कुछ नहीं है, जबकि उसे ऐसा करने का अधिकार नहीं है।

सीईआरसी में जाने की तैयारी
सासन पावर का बिजली सप्लाई घटाने का नोटिस मिलते ही मप्र पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी के अफसर सीईआरसी (सेन्ट्रल इलेक्ट्रिसिटी रेग्युलरटी कमीशन) जाने की तैयारी में जुट गए हैं। दैनिक भास्कर की जब इस मुद्दे पर एमडी संजय शुक्ला से बात हुई तब वे दिल्ली में ही थे। उन्होंने कहा कि – चिंता की कोई बात नहीं है। इस नोटिस को लेकर एमपीपीएमसीएल सीईआरसी के पास जा रही है।

दबाव की राजनीति है यह
मप्र विद्युत अभियंता संघ के महासचिव वी.के.एस. परिहार इसे दबाव की राजनीति बताते हैं। वह कहते हैं कि पहले तो सासन पॉवर ने सस्ती बिजली देने के नाम पर राज्यों से करार किया और इसके नाम पर सैकडा़ें़ करोड़ रुपए के प्रत्यक्ष/अप्रत्यक्ष लाभ मप्र सरकार से हासिल किए। अब यही सस्ती बिजली खुले बाजार में बेच कर मुनाफा कमाने का वह रास्ता खोज रहा है। ऐसा किया जा सके इसीलिए एमपीपीएमसीएल को उसके हिस्से की 1480 मेगावाट बिजली में से 300 मेगावाट की सप्लाई घटाने का नोटिस दिया है।

एससी में जा चुके हैं
ऑल इंडिया पॉवर इंजीनियर्स फेडरेशन के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष शैलेन्द्र दुबे कहते हैं कि – एआईपीईएफ व एमपीपीएमसीएल सहित आधा दर्जन से अधिक प्रोक्यूरर सासन पावर की सीओडी (कॉमर्शियल ऑपरेशन डेट) 31 मार्च 2013 मान्य किये जाने के एप्टेल के फैसले के खिलाफ सुप्रीम कोर्ट में याचिका दाखिल कर चुके हैं। इसलिए जब तक वहां इस पर अंतिम फैसला नहीं हो जाता, एमपीपीएमसीएल सहित बाकी प्रोक्यूरर क्यों सीओडी क्लेम अमाउंट का भुगतान करेंगे।

इसलिए नहीं है अधिकार
एमडी संजय शुक्ला कहते हैं कि सीओडी क्लेम के मुद्दे पर एप्टेल के फैसले के बाद सासन पावर द्वारा बकाया राशि चुकाने बाबत केवल एक पत्र भेजा गया है। बकाया राशि का उसने कोई बिल नहीं भेजा है। बिना बिल केवल पत्र के आधार पर 354 करोड़ रुपए का बकाया और उस पर 80 करोड़ के ब्याज का कैसे भुगतान किया जा सकता है। बकौल श्री शुक्ला- जब तक रिलायंस का सासन यूएमपीपी अपना गणनात्मक बिल नहीं देगा, हम क्लियरीफिकेशन कैसे कर सकेंगे?
http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/?id=1009483&boxid=5312172483&view=text&editioncode=180&pagedate=05/31/2016&pageno=1&map=map&ch=mpcg

Displaced 35 Years Ago, One Man Fights For A Piece Of His Land

May 23, 2016

When India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) established a power project four decades ago, the city of Singrauli began its journey to become “India’s Energy Capital” and also played witness to the displacement of thousands of people.

During that time, the World Bank provided financial support to the government of India to build this power project, the beginning of what would soon become an infestation of power projects in the region. This inundation of dirty coal projects has, over the decades, ultimately displaced around 300,000 people, many of whom have faced multiple displacements over the last 35 years. Some of them have even been displaced up to four times, but neither the state government nor the Indian central government has paid any attention to their struggle.

People who lost their land during the NTPC Singrauli Power Project in 1977 are still struggling to get their rehabilitation land allotment.

One of these displaced people, Ram Shubhang Shukla, is taking a stand.

“I am tired of running after government officials to get my land allotted,” Shukla said. “I am a physically challenged person and in spite of that, I had to run from one office to the other but to no avail. I have lost all hope, and now after all this, I have been sitting in protest near Rajiv Gandhi Baazar since January 19, 2016. I have been forced to sit in protest.”

Ram Shubhang Shukla has been given 1,200 rupees — the equivalent of less than $18 U.S. dollars — as compensation for his house, but he was not allotted any plot for the land he lost. Even after repeated reminders to officials, all Ram Shubhang has received is false assurances. He further stated that his brother and father have received plots of land but he has not.

A number of displaced families have been allotted land, but more often than not, those lands are already occupied by other people. After hearing about Ram Shubhang sitting in protest to get his land, a number of people who similarly have had to fight for their land, people like Jaggnath Giri from Kota, have joined him in protest.

It is clear that Ram Shubhang Shukla is not alone in his fight, but Singrauli still continues to displace hard-working people in the name of coal. Some have failed to raise their voice, and some, like Ram Shubhang , are still continuing to fight the system for their rights.

Ram Shubhang says that he met administrative officials responsible for the power projects — Mr. Gautum Singh Bhati, section officer Y. K. Chaturvedi, and many other officials — but to no avail.

Ram Shubhang calls on the Madhya Pradesh state government and Indian central government to follow through on their failed promises and allot him and all the other people who have been wrongfully displaced their resettlement land. He also calls on the World Bank, the financer of the NTPC project, to investigate the situation and pressure the government to follow through on their broken promises.

Ram Shubhang Shukla had to give up his protest after 63 days due to ill health. Neither the state government nor central government has taken any step toward fulfilling his legitimate demands.

“I have not taken back my demands or protest,” Shukla said. “Due to my ill health and extremely harsh summer (with temperatures soaring to 49 degrees Celsius or ~120 degrees Fahrenheit), I cannot sit in protest since I don’t want to give my family a tough time. I will sit again in protest as soon as i feel a little better and will continue to demand for my rights.”

Image Source: Joe Athialy

Rajesh Kumar is a Research Associate for Bank Information Center, South Asia.

See more stories by this author

http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2016/05/displaced-35-years-ago-one-man-fights-for-piece-his-land

 

PlanComm panel supports CAG view on usage of surplus coal from Sasan

PlanComm panel supports CAG view on usage of surplus coal from Sasan

The Indian EXPRESS

Amitav Ranjan : New Delhi, Sat Dec 07 2013,

 A Planning Commission panel has supported CAG’s contention that surplus coal from Reliance Power’s Sasan project cannot be diverted to RPL’s 4,000 MW Chitrangi project at the producer’s terms.

“While allotting temporary surplus coal to power units, it may be clearly understood that the benefit of this will have to be fully passed on to the consumers. The coal from this, therefore, should only be permitted for those units which are under power purchase agreement (PPA) and have their prices determined by a regulator,” says the high-level committee headed by Planning Commission member BK Chaturvedi.

“The freedom to transfer coal to another power unit should be based on this stipulation only,” says the committee’s report. The Indian Express first reported that the CAG had alleged that the power ministry gave “undue benefit” of Rs 42,009 crore — spread over 25 years — to RPL in the Sasan ultra mega power project by changing the coal licence norms to allow RPL to divert surplus coal to its Chitrangi project. No PPAs have been signed for the project which is still in conceptual stage.

Since the coal use at the Chitrangi would fetch RPL a higher tariff of Rs 2.45 per unit compared to Rs 1.19 per unit for Sasan for which the coalmine was allotted, the CAG had recommended that the permission to use excess coal be reviewed as “no benefit on this account was passed to the consumers”.

The Chaturvedi committee, which considered the Attorney General’s view on surplus coal transfer from the Sasan project, has suggested that a “general policy” be framed for transfer of any excess coal from captive coal mining companies in the power, cement and steel sectors. “Such policy framework could allow general permission for transfer of surplus coal by any captive coal block user to another end-user of approved use,” it said, while adding that a surplus from “any existing captive block” (such as Sasan) to a new allottee “may be in the nature of a fresh allocation”.

 The report is categorical that the benefits of its policy should not be made available to merchant power plants who sell electricity at unregulated rates to the customers.

“In such cases, they should be free to buy coal from e-auction or import coal and run their power business. To provide them coal from coal surpluses at Coal India prices, which are below the international prices, would be unfair and unjust”, it says. The panel, formed to formulate a policy on coal banking, rejected this option because of legal tangle.

Sasan can’t take off without providing additional land

Sasan can’t take off without providing additional land

,TNN | Nov 28, 2013, 05.01 AM IST BHOPAL: The controversial Reliance Power-owned Sasan Power Limited (SPL) in Madhya Pradesh (MP) may see more trouble as they may have to provide 1384.96 hectare of non-forest land, for which it was granted exemption following a certificate of non-availability of land issued by the then chief secretary of the state in 2009.

SPL will have to provide land as per the new Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) guidelines, said a senior officer in the state forest department wishing anonymity. “We have not received any official communication in this matter,” he said.

State forest department has shot off a letter to MoEF seeking status of the guidelines. The ministry had promised for new guidelines after being pulled up by the CAG for extending “undue favours” to SPL. The letter was sent by the land records section of the forest department recently, said sources.

When contacted principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) Anil Oberoi said that he is in Delhi and will discuss the matter with higher-ups in MoEF.

SPL, a special purpose vehicle created for development of Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Power FinanceCorporation (PFC). In August 2007 it was transferred to Reliance Power Limited.

In its recent report on Compensatory Afforestation in India, CAG said that SPL, according to guidelines and clarifications for diversion of forest lands for non-forest purpose under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, had to provide equivalent area of 1384.96 hectare of non-forest land for the compensatory afforestation.

But, the former chief secretary had issued a certificate of non-availability of non-forest land in Sidhi district instead of a certificate of non-availability of non-forest land for the entire state.

“Based on this ineligible certificate issued by the chief secretary, the ministry ‘exempted’ Sasan Power Limited from providing non-forest land of 1384.96 hectare in case of Ultra Mega Power Project and for the coal mining project in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,” reads the CAG report, which highlighted “deficiencies” in permitting diversion of forest land in the state.

“Not only did the ministry not exercise due diligence in ensuring compliance with conditions it also inexplicably overlooked the deficiencies in the certificate pointed out by a subordinate authority in the ministry while granting exemption in the instant case,” CAG noted.

CAG mentioned, “The MoEF had insisted for compensatory afforestation over the non-forest land in latest project of the same company in nearby location in Madhya Pradesh, which clearly illustrates that in earlier two cases undue favour was extended to M/s Sasan Power Limited.”