The State government will notify 4,000 acres of land in and around the project site of the super thermal power plant at Kudgi in Bijapur district as a “prohibited area” to ensure complete protection, Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar has said.
Speaking after a meeting of stakeholders on Saturday, which was attended by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) officials, district administration officials, Chief Secretary and people’s representatives, the Minister said there was “no question of going back on the promise made to the Centre” that they would fully cooperate in completing the project.
He said the State government had already given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that the 4000-MW project — the first unit of which is expected to be functional by December 2015 — would not cause harm to either the environment or the livelihood of people.
Even though farmers — some of whom are protesting against the project — were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting, the Minister sought to underplay it by saying that their interests would be protected. “I am also their representative,” he said.
Mr. Shivakumar said that NTPC was bound by the agreement to provide jobs to local people and take up CSR initiatives to help them. “We have also asked them to take responsibility for developing the road connecting NH 13 and NH 218, which is in bad shape,” he said. The Minister contended that none of the farmers who had lost their lands was unhappy with the project and the protests were only by “vested interests”. The farmers could be taken into confidence and every step taken to convince them of the safety of the project, he added.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader K.S. Puttannaiah, MLA, who did not turn up for the meeting, said in a letter to the Minister to “reconsider the project” since it would cause “more harm than gain”.