‘Power project will destroy cultural heritage of Niddodi’ – Shanbhag
MANGALORE: President of Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi. Dr. Ravindranath Shanbhag has called upon people to file petitions in the high court with regard to proposal of setting up of 4,000 MW ultra mega power project at Niddodi near Moodbidri.
He was delivering a talk on Niddodi thermal power project held under the aegis of International Federation of Christian Associations and Karnataka Theological College Federation here on Saturday.
“Make politicians and administrators feel the heat of the people’s protest. The government will implement the project if people keep mum. Initially, they will select the spot, prepare environment impact assessment report, declare the area as barren land on their own and later divide residents to acquire the land tactfully,” Shanbhag said, adding that the project will have serious impact on the entire coastal region.
Citing examples of six persons suffering from minamata syndrome due to mercury poisoning near UPCL power project at Nandikur, he warned that chemical poisoning from thermal power project may cause several diseases.
He said that several industrial and infrastructural projects proposed by the government in Western Ghats region will have adverse affect in the coastal region. “Western Ghats protects the coast as a wall from natural disasters like cyclone. River diversion, railway development, power projects, proposed tunnel road project from Mangalore to Bangalore and other industrial activities on Western Ghats will have adverse impact on the ecological balance.
Shanbhag urged that a survey should be conducted to assess the present health scenario in the region where the power project is proposed. “Reduce power transmission loss and increase the use of solar power to reduce the power shortage crisis and to protect the nature,” he said, adding that 35 – 45 per cent of the power produced in India is lost in transmission, distribution and theft.
Convenor of Mathrubhoomi Samrakshana Samti Niddodi and journalist Kiran Manjanbailu who was the other speaker in the symposium stated that the proposed Niddodi Power Plant would have deleterious impact not only in Udupi but also in Dakshina Kannada District. “We know UPCL has caused harm to the sensitive jasmine cultivation. Niddodi is known for its beetle leaf cultivation and the proposed power project would be detrimental to its cultivation. It would also destroy the rich and veritable local culture like ‘Siri”, Gumtam and the Kudubi community of the area will be extinguished”, he said. He also said that according to the information available to them from the central committee that visited Niddodi the project is in need of 1000 acres of land in and around Niddodi. The main plant of the project is planned in the 200 acre government land but plans are afoot to acquire 800 acres more adjoining land which is cultivable.
Kiran Manjanabailu also highlighted the harmful impact caused by the proposed plant on Nandini river water which will be used by the project for cooling purposes. ‘If people are not ready to fight the might of the government and oppose the project, undivided Dakshina Kannada district would become a dumping yard of wasted ash accumulated from the plant ”, he opined. He highlighted the need the scrap the project to save agriculture, the environment and the distinct culture of the coastal region.
Earlier chief guest Rev Dr H M Watson, Professor of Karnataka Theologicial College Balmatta inaugurated the symposium by lighting the traditional lamp. He said that it is time the people of undivided Dakshina Kannada join hands and fight unitedly against Niddodi power project to demonstrate that we are really an intelligent and enterprising lot.
In his introductory speech IFKCA state convenor Dennis D Silva emphasized the need for the people to wake up from their slumber and wage a spirited fight against Niddodi project.
President of Mangalore unit of IFKCA Roy Castelino welcomed the gathering. Jayakar Samartha proposed the vote of thanks. Florine Roche compered the programme.
Niddodi project planned in the cost of 20,000 crore and it requires 8000 acres of land. The government is going to give 200 acres of land and remaining land will be taken after eviction of residents. There are 3 types of agricultural lands and betel is the prime crop. If the plan is built the agriculture will collapse and Kudubi community will be endangered . Nandini River also will be polluted . Already the experts have visited the plant site and if the plan is implemented then, that will be turned to a black day to us the speakers expressed the anxiety.
The assembled gathering which was full to the brim listened to the views of the speakers in rapt attention and later interacted with the speakers to get their doubts cleared on various issues pertaining to Niddodi power project. Alphonse D Souza, who hails from Niddodi and is President of Mathrubhoomi Samrakshana Vedike shared his experiences about their efforts to opposed the Niddodi power plant.
By: sathish Kapikad