Tuesday, 5 June 2012

132 power units to turn Vidarbha into environmental graveyard-TIMES OF INDIA

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132 power units to turn Vidarbha into environmental graveyard


ALREADY EXISTING: Chandrapur, Koradi, Khaparkheda, Paras, Warora and Mihan

COMMISSIONING STAGE: Tiroda, Butibori, and Mouda

WORK IN PROGRESS: Warora, Bela, Wardha, Chandrapur, Koradi, Mouda, Tiroda, Nandgaonpeth

NAGPUR: Even as the city gears up to celebrate World Environment Day on Tuesday, here is a stark reality! Nearly 132 power plants are proposed to come up in Vidarbha. This does not include eight plants where work is already in progress and another three which are at the commissioning stage. If the proposals are accepted, together the proposed plants would produce 86,407MW and turn the region into an environmental graveyard.

Ironically, Vidarbha has always been power surplus region and by 2014 Maharashtra too is expected to become a power surplus state. It is clear that the new power plants won't cater to the state but only other parts of the country. Production is already on in six plants in Vidarbha.

In 2010-11, the number of proposed power plants was 85. However, the list has touched 132 now. Several are in process of acquiring land, permission for water and coal blocks, and have applied for letter of assurance (LoA).

District-wise break-up of 132 plants include 28 in Nagpur (17,070MW), 58 in Chandrapur (28,114MW), 16 in Bhandara and Gondia (22,035MW), 19 in Amravati and Yavatmal (13,845MW), 6 in Wardha (2,843MW), 3 in Gadchiroli (2,000MW) and 2 (expansion of Paras plant) in Akola (500MW).

Vivekanand Mathne, convener of Kisan Swaraj Andolan, a body spearheading agitation against flooding of power plants in Vidarbha, said the list has been prepared on the basis of information sought from water resources department, coal and environment ministry and state industries department.

"Vidarbha already has enough power units to meet electricity requirement of the people. It seems the government is virtually dumping power plants here at the cost of Vidarbha to benefit other parts of Maharashtra," said Sudhir Paliwal, power sector expert.

Mathne says politicians are misleading the people by saying that the large number of proposed power projects coming up in Vidarbha is not true. "The figures have been obtained from official records. Leaders will not say anything because they themselves are the beneficiaries," he alleged.

The 132 plants will need around 1 lakh acre farm land and 3,600 mm3 water. With that much amount of water, over 5.5 lakh hectare land can be irrigated. The proposed power plants will burn 18 lakh tonne coal per day turning "Vidarbha into an ash dump".

It will also lead to rise in temperatures by 3 to 4 degrees. Temperature in several cities in the region has already touched 48 degrees in peak summer.

According to power officials, Maharashtra (excluding Mumbai) requires 16,500MW to fulfil its requirement. The power availability is between 14,500MW and 15,000MW. Thus, to completely avoid load shedding, the state needs between 1,500MW and 2,000MW. The MSEDCL officials have gone on record to say that they can easily arrange for this additional power but due to high losses in certain areas load shedding is being enforced there.

It also implies that the state is virtually load-shedding free. The units that are slated to start generation in the coming months should completely take care of the state's needs. The units are: Bhusawal - 1,000MW, Chandrapur - 1,000MW, Koradi - 1,980MW, Paras - 1500MW, Mouda - 150MW (state share), Tiroda - 1,320MW. In addition, power plants at Nandgaonpeth (Amravati), Butibori, Warora and Mihan will cater to some industries in the state, which will reduce MSEDCL's demand.

"For 20 years the state government did nothing to increase power generation. Now, it is struggling to meet power demand at the cost of Vidarbha. Despite losing natural resources for power units and coal blocks, people are not getting power," said Bandu Dhotre, president of environment protection NGO Eco-Pro, Chandrapur.

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