Chhattisgarh farmers protest Rs.55-bn power project


Raipur : Nearly a hundred farmers took out a rally here Monday to protest land acquisitions by GMR Energy at Raikheda village in Chhattisgarh for its Rs.55 billion power project.

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The company is purchasing land directly from nearly 250 farmers for a 1,200 MW coal-fired power plant.

“Today’s rally is to remind the company to recall its agents from Raikheda who are making false promises to the farmers. We do not want the plant as it will only raise the pollution levels in Raikheda that already has over a dozen sponge iron units,” Ganguram Baghel, who led the protest march, told IANS.

Raikheda is 35 km from state capital Raipur.

The company’s acquisitions will account for 60 percent of nearly 1,200 acres needed for the project. The remaining land will be given by the government.

“We will oppose the project till our last breath because it is an issue concerning our survival. Hundreds of Raikheda residents and from adjoining villages have skin cancer due to industrial pollution and the number of patients is going up every month,”.

He said the plant will consume about 17,000 tonnes of coal per day.

The Bangalore-based GMR Energy signed a deal with the Chhattisgarh government in June 2007 to set up the plant. As per the agreement, the company has to reserve 35 percent power produced for the state.

The company officials say they plan to complete the land acquisitions at the earliest so that construction work could begin by September. The company plans to commission the plant by 2012-13.