Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vidarbha water powers Nitin Gadkari-DNA

Vidarbha water powers Nitin Gadkari

1,260 MW (2,300 MW+1,660 MW ) coal-based power plant
Location: village:-Bijora Tehsil- Mahagaon, District-Yavatmal (Maharashtra)
Costing Rs.5,040 cr.
1320 MW (2,660 MW super critical coal based power project
Location :Village :-khutafali, Tehsil-Ner, District-Yavatmal (Maharashtra)
Costing Rs.5,280 cr.

DNA / Yogesh Pawar / Thursday, May 31, 2012 6:00 IST
In farmer suicide country, Vidarbha, a new controversy is brewing. Water from irrigation projects meant for farmers has been diverted to a massive number of power projects coming up in the region. While the BJP has often been at the forefront of its attacks on the state government for this decision, BJP president Nitin Gadkari along with his party colleagues are stakeholders in a number of power projects, two of which are in Yavatmal district. With the highest number of farmer suicides in the country’s it is like the epicentre of the crisis which claims three farmers’ lives every single day.
In one sweep, over the past year, the state government cleared a whopping 85 power projects across this region. For this they sanctioned 2,200 mm3 (million cubic metres) of water from irrigation projects, which could have watered an estimated 5 lakh hectares of farmland.
The BJP says it is against diverting water to power plants in Vidarbha, but are its own leaders are direct or proxy stakeholders in the booming power business?
The route through their business dealings are several - one of them being Chintamani Agrotech. Started with the “guidance” of Nitin Gadkari, it has as its members, Utam Ingle, former BJP MLA from Umerkhed, Madan Yerawar, former BJP MLA from Yavatmal and Devendra Fadnavis, MLA from Nagpur.
Ingle, confirmed to us the relations between Gadkari and Chintamani. When DNA asked him if Gadkari was still associated with it, he said, "Chintamani Agrotech may be Nitin Gadkari's company but I bought the land in the company's name. I'm a director in it with 10 others."
Meanwhile Nitin Gadkari’s office has sent DNA this statement in clarification: "Nitin Gadkari was once appointed independent Director of the company, but due to his commitments he could not attend even in single meeting of the company and subsequently resigned from M/s Chintamani Agrotech in 2011."
In 2001, Ingle on behalf of Chintamani Agrotech bought 127 acres of land from the remote tribal village of Bijora in Yavatmal.
Locals say since Ingle is also a tribal, they believed his claim of setting up a sugar factory which would provide jobs for them. An angry villager told us, "We demand that either you give jobs to our kids or give us the correct compensation for the land otherwise give our land back."
But there has been no factory for ten years, and no jobs. Instead Chintamani has announced they are setting up a 30 MW power plant on the site. Ingle still insists, "The 30 MW power plant will run on biogas, from sugarcane residue." He claims it is a biofuel plant which doesn’t use coal, and so it doesn’t contradict their stand against coal-based power plants in Vidarbha. Curiosuly in their official release, Chintamani has described it as primarily a coal-based plant, and confirmed coal linkages.
Angry with what they see as multliple deceptions, the local Gonds went on a rampage, breaking Chintamani's field office three months ago, demanding their land be returned. Vijay Gond from the affected village says, "Chintamani company has not done any work and we have no faith left in them anymore. Since they haven’t done anything for over decade, it is obvious they do not want to do anything. An entire generation lost out due to them. What benefit did we get? Now we do not want any more empty assurances, we want our land back."
Undettered Gadkari's associates have come back to the same spot with even bigger ambitions, under a different proxy. This proxy is Jinbhuvish Power, headed by the Nagpur based businessman Manish Mehta, who also was a director in Chintamani Agrotech. On Mehta's website we found photos of him with Gadkari which demonstrate his closeness with the latter.
Jinbhuvish has bought 750 acres of land, to set up a huge 1260 MW coal – based plant bang next to the Chintamani land.
This has raised fresh fears. Jinbhuvish is cleared to get 20 mm3 of water which most likely will come from the nearby Penganga river. Ingle however insists, there is no link between the two, and that Manish has left Chintamani Agrotech. "Manish Mehta used to be a Director in Chintamani Agrotech but he left. Now he is in Jinbhuvish," he offered.
Yet the Chintamani power plant is listed in Jinbhuvish's website, as a Jinbhuvish project! They even share the same offices in a building in Nagpur. When DNA called the office, the staff were apprehensive about answering questions or telling us Manish Mehta’s location. On phone Manish Mehta too insists Chintamani and Jinbhuvish are different companies. “I am only helping them with their project in Yavatmal,” he said, first agreeing to meet us and backing out later. Interestingly a BJP MLA who is one of the directors of Chintamani went a step further and said Mehta runs both the companies.
As further evidence of the links, Ingle confirmed that he helped Jinbhuvish acquire 625 acres of land for yet another coal– based power plant in Ningnur, also in Yavatmal. He told us, "I helped Jinbhuvish to acquire land on which they are making a 1,200 MW power plant for which they have got clearance as well."
Vidarbha Jan Andolan's Kishore Tiwari says there is no doubt about these links. He says "Jinbhvish is a recent partner which owns these two sites - Bijaura and Kolura power plants, floated initially by Chintamani Agro. Chintamani is a sister concern of Purti Agro which is the company of Nitin Gadkari."
On the outskirts of Nagpur, is an even more direct link between Gadkari and coal based -power business. Work is progressing on a new 270 MW power plant set up by Ideal Energy, in which Nitin Gadkari's son, Nikhil, is an independent director. Ideal Energy is right next to Purti Industries, owned by Nitin Gadkari. It is also right next to Wadgaon dam, so its water supply is assured. Nikhil initially was unavailable for comments but later said he had resigned from Ideal Energy on 8th April 2011.
Farm rights activist Vijay Jawandiya deplores this development. "Gadkari is a national leader of BJP. He has his own power plants and is entering the power industry with his friends. This is really a tragedy. Instead of solving problems of Vidarbha farmers, this will compound them as water availability will be reduced," he said and added, “While the Congress- NCP government diverts water from farmers to power projects, the BJP president and his party colleagues benefiting from it. What more proof needed that the water crisis in India’s most high risk farming zones is less to do with weather gods, but more with the political leadership.”
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