Opposition to coal in India
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of India and coal.|
With over 500 new coal plants under construction or proposed in India, opposition from local residents has intensified due to land seizures, air pollution impacts, fly ash contamination of groundwater, effect of thermal discharges on fisheries, displacement of communities, and other impacts. As the map below shows, opposition has been reported in all parts of the country with notable concentrations in Chhattisgarh, coastal Andhra Pradesh, coastal Maharashtra, and Punjab.
- 1 Within India, grassroots opposition to coal continues to be intense -- and the opposition is showing success
- 2 Opposition to coal mines
- 3 Protests and actions
- 3.1 November 2012: Woman immolates herself in protest against land acquisition for Katni power station in Madhya Pradesh
- 3.2 November 2012: Famers in Karnataka hold plant staff hostage over land acquisition grievances at Bellary Thermal Power Station
- 3.3 June 2012: Villagers protesting Komarada power station (Andhra Pradesh) detail police personnel following demonstration and arrests
- 3.4 February 2012: Opponents of Bhadreshwar power station (OPG) (Gujarat) prevail at National Green Tribunal
- 3.5 January 2012: Thousands block railways and roads to JR Power Project in Orissa
- 3.6 December 2011: Villagers blockage Vizag Thermal Power Plant in Andhra Pradesh
- 3.7 December 2011: 8,000 - 10,000 villagers opposing Machhakata coal mine set fires, ransack meeting venue, block road in Orissa
- 3.8 November 2011: Activist nun who fought Indian mining companies brutally murdered in Jharkhand
- 3.9 October 2011: Protesters injured during public hearing in Ankulapaturu village in Andhra Pradesh
- 3.10 September 2011: Public hearing erupts into chaos (Chhattisgarh)
- 3.11 September 2011: Greenpeace calls for moratorium on new coal projects in Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh)
- 3.12 September 2011: Moving Planet day of action
- 3.13 August 2011: Residents surrounding GNDTP Bathinda force shutdown of plant (Punjab)
- 3.14 August 2011: Farmer killed in demonstration against Gobindpura power station in Punjab
- 3.15 August 2011: Farmers in Punjab start chain hunger strike against Gidderbaha power station
- 3.16 June 2011: "We have no option but to beg for our lands, but begging is also a crime" (Uttar Pradesh)
- 3.17 June 2011: Protesters block railway to protest coal transportation to Udupi power station (Karnataka)
- 3.18 May 2011: Mango farmers protest coal plants in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district
- 3.19 May 2011: Amnesty International takes up cases of activists imprisoned in Chhattisgarh
- 3.20 May 2011: MASS protests Mundra Ultra Mega (Gujarat)
- 3.21 April 2011: Villagers at Kakrapalli village in Andhra Pradesh mark 238 days of relay hunger strike
- 3.22 April 2011: Four killed in protests against anti-encroachment drive in Jharkand
- 3.23 February 2011: Two killed, 25 injured in Andhra Pradesh
- 3.24 February 2011: Vocal opposition to DB Power coal mine and plant in Chhattisgarh
- 3.25 January 2011: 25 people injured in Chhattisgarh protests
- 3.26 January 2011: Farmer killed in Bihar protest
- 3.27 October 2010: Fisherfolk and salt pan workers rally against Adani Project (Gujarat)
- 3.28 July 2010: Two killed, 150 injured in Andhra Pradesh
- 3.29 April 2010: Five arrested following scuffle between farmers and survey officials in Karnataka
- 3.30 January 2010: Hanakon thermal project shelved after intense protest; protesters tortured (Karnataka)
- 3.31 February 2009: Opponents win cancellation of Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station
- 3.32 January 2008: Public hearing in Raigarh on Jindal Power mine ends in chaos (Chhattisgarh)
- 3.33 September 2007: 5,000 people rally in Mysore to protest Chamalapura power station (Karnataka)
- 3.34 August 2007: 6,000 people face displacement in Madhya Pradesh
- 3.35 Opposition to expansion of the Dahanu Power Station in coastal Maharashtra
- 4 Media coverage
- 5 Citizen groups
- 6 Articles and resources
- 7 Resources
Within India, grassroots opposition to coal continues to be intense -- and the opposition is showing success
Table 1 shows the locations of at least 39 plants that have been the subject of opposition. More details may be found at Opposition to coal in India. To date, clashes over coal mines, plants, and rail lines have been less intense in 2012 than in 2011. That year saw large scale-scale protests in numerous locations, including multiple cases of violent police action against rural protesters. Among such incidents were the following:
- In January 2011 in Bihar, a farmer was killed during protests against the Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project.
- In January 2011 in Chhattisgarh, 25 people were injured and over 100 imprisoned during protests against the KSK Mahanadi Power Project.
- In February 2011 in Andhra Pradesh, two people were killed and 25 injured during protests in Srikakulam against a plant proposed by East Coast Energy.
- In April 2011 in Jharkand, four people were killed and 21 injured during protests against over the clearing of land owned by Bharat Coking Coal Limited.
- In August 2011 in Punjab, a farmer was killed and others injured during protests against the Gobindpura power station.
- In October 2011 in Andhra Pradesh, villagers were attacked by police and a doctor leading the protests beaten during hearings on a coal plant in Ankulapaturu village.
- In November 2011 in Jharkhand, anti-coal organizer Sister Valsa John was hacked to death, allegedly by agents of local mining companies.
Opponents have halted 45% of proposed plants -- that's 5 times the expected attrition rate
In cases where opposition to coal plants has been reported, it appears that the opposition has had a high rate of success. As shown in Table 5 below, the results are as follows:
- Plants deferred - 11
- Plants cancelled - 6
- Total number deferred or cancelled - 17
- Total number of plants with reported opposition - 38
- Success rate for opponents - 45%
The success rate of 45% compares to approximately 9% of coal projects deferred or cancelled overall in India (48 out of 549 projects, as shown in Table 4 above). The result shows that when communities employ grassroots tactics to oppose coal plant proposals that threaten to encroach on their land, water, crops, or fisheries, their chances of seeing a coal plant deferred or cancelled increase fivefold over the average rate for the country as a whole.
Opponents have been particularly successful in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra
As shown in Table 1, two states, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, account for 29,600 MW of cancelled or deferred projects, nearly half of the 64,070 MW of cancelled or deferred projects for the nation as a whole.
Table 1: Plants that have been the object of community opposition
|State||Plant||Reason for Opposition||Opposition Groups||Status|
|Andhra Pradesh||Ankulapatur power station phase 1||pollution concerns||Jana Vignana Vedika||Construction|
|Chhattisgarh||Athena Chhattisgarh power station||multiple||LIFE, Jan Chetana||Advanced development|
|Orissa||Babandh power station||land, displacement||Construction|
|Orissa||Balangir power station||land acquisition||Early development|
|Chhattisgarh||Baradarha power station||displacement, forests||Centre for Science and Environment||Advanced development|
|Uttar Pradesh||Bara Thermal Power Project||land||Construction|
|Gujarat||Bhadreshwar power station (OPG)||fisheries, impacts of multiple plants||MASS||Deferred|
|Gujarat||Bhadreshwar Thermal Power Project (Adani)||fisheries, impacts of multiple plants||MASS||Deferred|
|Andhra Pradesh||Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project||multiple||Deferred|
|Chhattisgarh||Birra Thermal Power Project||displacement, impacts of multiple plants||Early development|
|Karnataka||Chamalapura power station||displacement||Chamalapura Ushnavidyut Sthavara Virodhi Horata Samithi||Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Dahanu Power Station||agriculture, fisheries||DPBS, INTACH, KVIC, DTEPA, DTEWA, Tamarind Tree||Cancelled|
|Andhra Pradesh||Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station||wildlife||Cancelled|
|Maharashtra||Dhopave Thermal Power Station (Mahagenco)||land acquisition||Deferred|
|Punjab||Gidderbaha power station||land acquisition||Deferred|
|Maharashtra||Girye Ultra Mega Power Project||land acquisition and displacement||Deferred|
|Punjab||GNDTP Bathinda power station||air pollution and coal ash||Joint Action Committee||Cancelled|
|Punjab||Gobindpura power station||land acquisition||Construction|
|Karnataka||Gulbarga power station||land acquisition||Advanced development|
|Andhra Pradesh||Gunipudi power station (NBPL proposal)||Deferred|
|Tamil Nadu||Hanakon Thermal Power Project||Cancelled|
|Orissa||JR Power Project||pollution of farmland, water competition||Early development|
|West Bengal||Katwa Super Thermal Power Project (NTPC)||land acquisition||Deferred|
|Chhattisgarh||KSK Mahanadi Power Project||land acquisition, displacement||Construction|
|Bihar||Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project||land acquisition||Advanced development|
|Andhra Pradesh||Nagarjuna Construction Company Sompeta Thermal Plant||agriculture, fisheries, wildlife||Deferred|
|Punjab||Rajpura_Thermal_Power_Project||lack of local hiring for construction||Construction|
|Maharashtra||Ratnagiri Power Plant expansion||agriculture, impacts of multiple plants||Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch||Deferred|
|Punjab||Ropar thermal plant||air pollution, fly ash, agriculture||Proposed|
|Madhya Pradesh||Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project||Ex-Im Bank policy, CDM issues||Friends of the Earth||Construction|
|Andhra Pradesh||Simhadri Power Station||Fly ash, fisheries||Operating|
|Andhra Pradesh||Sree Siva Satyadeva Power Plant||coastal impacts||Cancelled|
|Gujarat||Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project||fisheries, agriculture, CDM||MASS, etc.||Construction|
|Chhattisgarh||Tamnar II Project||pollution, displacement||Jan Chetna||Advanced development|
|Karnataka||Udupi power station||Fly ash||Early development|
|Maharashtra||Veshvi power station||agriculture, fisheries||Proposed|
|Andhra Pradesh||Vizag Thermal Power Plant||land acquisition, coastal impacts||Deferred|
|Karnataka||Yeramarus thermal station||fly ash, impacts of multiple plants||Construction|
Opposition to coal mines
Opposition to coal mines has occured at the following locations:
- DB Power Dharamjaigarh mine - Chhattisgarh
- Proposed Mahaguj coal mine - Orissa
- Singrauli - Madhya Pradesh
Protests and actions
November 2012: Woman immolates herself in protest against land acquisition for Katni power station in Madhya Pradesh
A Katni district villager, Sunia Bai, died one day after set herself on fire on Diwali day in protest over land acquisition for Katni power station. Following the self-immolation, police responded to a protest by residents of Bujbuja and Dakaria villages with a lathicharge, seizing the body. According to villagers, the police had threatened to bulldoze the home of Sunia Bai and her husband Chhaka Gadari. In addition, police arrested 12 villagers as well as former Janata Dal (United) MLA Saroj Bachchan Nayak. Protesters demanded that land acquired for the project be returned to farmers. Farmers also built funeral pyres on their land and warmed that they would immolate themselves if forcibly evicted. A second villager threatened with eviction, Pyare Lai Choudhary, was admitted to the hospital after drinking poison in a suicide attempt.
November 2012: Famers in Karnataka hold plant staff hostage over land acquisition grievances at Bellary Thermal Power Station
In November 2012, a local association representing farmers living in the vicinity of the Bellary Thermal Power Station staged protests to publicize grievances over land acquisition. According to the protesters, more than 1,000 acres of land belonging to 350 families had been acquired for the plant, but the plant had not fulfilled a promise to provide employment to those families who had lost land, with only 150 persons receiving employment. More than six buses carrying over 150 staff from the Bellary Thermal Station were stopped by local famers, who confined them in a school playground in order to pressure authorities to accept their demands. The protest ended after Karnataka Power Corporation officials and local officials met with the farmers and provided assurances that their demands would be taken up.
June 2012: Villagers protesting Komarada power station (Andhra Pradesh) detail police personnel following demonstration and arrests
On June 9, 2012, hundreds of villagers rallied at Kotipam village in Komarada mandal to obstruct the fencing works for the proposed Komarada power station. In response, about 200 police personnel arrived and made preventative arrests of several party leaders. In retaliation, villagers detained police personnel for hours before release them. Locals opposing the plant said that the project falls in a tribal sub-plan area. In addition, the project overlaps the irrigation area of the Vanakabaadi Gedda reservoir.
February 2012: Opponents of Bhadreshwar power station (OPG) (Gujarat) prevail at National Green Tribunal
On February 8, 2012, the National Green Tribunal, a body created in 2010 to handle cases relating to environmental protection, directed that no construction activity should take place with respect to the plant until all approvals are obtained by the OPG Power Ventures, the sponsor of the project. Construction had begun at the site without the necessary approvals under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and CRZ clearance. The construction had been challenged at the National Green Tribunal by fisherfolk, salpan workers, and local villagers. The halting of the project was an unusual event. According to Prayas Energy Group, "It is extremely rare for a thermal power plant (TPP) to have its environmental clearance rejected. In fact, not a single thermal power plant has been denied clearance by the MoEF from 2006 to July 2010...." The order of the National Green Tribunal can be found here. The order to stop construction of the plant attacted nationwide media attention, including the following stories:
- "Green Tribunal flags rad for OPG's power plant," Indian Express, February 15, 2012
- Piyali Mandal, "Green setback for OPG Power plant," Business Standard, February 15, 2012
- "Green tribunal stops Gujarat power project," Hindustan Times, February 14, 2012
- Gujarat News story, February 14, 2012 (in Gujarati)
- Kutch Mitra Daily story, (in Gujarati)
- "Stop OPG's power plant work at Mudra untill it gets environmental clearance: National Green Tribunal," The Economic Times, February 15, 2012
- "Stop OPG's power plant work at Mudra, Gujarat: Green Tribunal," Deccan Chronicle, February 16, 2012
January 2012: Thousands block railways and roads to JR Power Project in Orissa
On January 6, 2012, thousands blocked rail and road communication to the proposed 1980 MW JR Power Project, the latest in two years of opposition to the plant. The demonstrators said the plant would be constructed at the site of a proposed irrigation project, disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and others in need of the water and land, as the water will instead go to the power plant. They also cited concerns with polluting the fertile farmland.
December 2011: Villagers blockage Vizag Thermal Power Plant in Andhra Pradesh
In December 2011, members of 32 villages affected by the Vizag Thermal Power Plant sponsored by Hinduja National Power Corporation blockaded the main entrance to the plant. The protesters demanded employment for local workers as well as compensation for the 623 acres acquired for the project. After assurances by governmental and company officials that a meeting would be convened in 15 days to resolved the issues, the protest dispersed. 
December 2011: 8,000 - 10,000 villagers opposing Machhakata coal mine set fires, ransack meeting venue, block road in Orissa
On December 8, 2011, villagers stormed, ransacked, and set fire to the venue of a public hearing on Machhakata coal mine, which will affect 9 villages. Villagers then marched to the Chhendipara (Chhendipada) tehsil office and blocked the Chhendipara road, demanding that the project be canceled. After administrative officials agreed to cancel the hearing, the demonstrators agreed to lift the blockade. According to one report, MLA Kageswar Behera was beaten by angry villagers. According to another report, Behera denied being assaulted and maintained that he aopposed the project. At least one news reporter was seriously injured by the mob. The Machhakata mine is sponsored by Mahaguj Collieries Ltd, a joint project of Maharashtra State Power Generation Company and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation. The project will be developed and operated by Adani Mining Private Ltd. According to one report, about 8,000 people were involved in the unrest. Another estimate placed the number at 10,000.
November 2011: Activist nun who fought Indian mining companies brutally murdered in Jharkhand
In mid-November 2011 Sister Valsa John, an anti-coal activist in India, was killed in her village of Pachwara, a small community in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. She was allegedly killed by individuals hired by coal mining companies. The individuals beat and hacked her to death. Sister Valsa was 52 and took her vows was a member of Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary. It was reported that on numerous occasions she had gone to the police after threats where made on her life. The following was written in the Globe and Mail following her death:
- "She was one of the remarkable breed of Indian religious figures who are grassroots social activists, who immerse themselves in the most marginalized and impoverished communities and work on literacy, basic health care and human rights. Sister Valsa said she did Jesus’s work by teaching the aboriginal people – known in India as adivasi or 'tribals' – about their rights to their land."
On November 20, 2011 seven residents of Pachwara and adjoining Aloopara village, were arrested for the killing of Sister Valsa John. The Sister's family in the India region of Kerala had alleged she faced death threats from the "mining mafia" in the area and was killed because of her campaign against the Panam Coal Company. However, police alleged that that locals were responsible for her death instead.
Prior to being killed, Sister Valsa John stood up for a rape victim in her community and a police report filed for the case. The alleged rapist, arrested days after the murder and later charged with that too, reportedly told the police that Sister Valsa was “an agent” of a private mining company.
October 2011: Protesters injured during public hearing in Ankulapaturu village in Andhra Pradesh
On Oct. 3, 2011, hundreds of villagers led by Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) and its affiliated unions protested an environmental public hearing by the Pollution Control Board (PCB) regarding the 350 MW Ankulapatur power station phase 1 at Ankulapaturu village in Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district.
The public hearing was for land acquisition for the power project. Disagreement broke out between those in attendance, and protesters say they were then attacked and beaten by police, with several protestors suffering injuries. The Joint Collector Saurabh Gaur walked away without giving any orders either to the police to withdraw nor giving any declaration regarding the status of the public hearing.
The proposed plant, sponsored by VSF Projects, will use 1,200 acres near Ankulapaturu village of Chillakur mandal in Gudur division in the district. Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) district secretary Ellanki Venkateswarlu said locals in Ankulapaturu and the neighbouring villages were opposing the plant, as existing power projects in the area are already creating health hazards.
At the hearing, project opponent Vijayakumar, was beaten by police. Vijayakumar is a doctor and an activist with Jana Vigyana Vedika a people's science organisation. An charge of attempted murder was registered against inspector Ram Babu under section 307 of the IPC. Opponents of the plant charged that the environmental impact assessment prepared by the company suppressed the impacts of the plant on the ten surrounding villages, which are mostly inhabited by landless Scheduled Tribe (ST) or small farmers belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), and that the plant will be located in the middle of a wetland surrounded by shrimp farms. According to one local leader, about 700 people walked seven to eight kilometres to participate in the hearing after their tractors were blocked by police. At the hearing, sponsored by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, participation was limited to 20-30 people who allegedly were hired by the company to speak. After Vijayakumar asked those opposing the project to raise their hands, police began lathicharging, and Vijayakumar was allegedly strangled by company goons before being rescued by supporters.
September 2011: Public hearing erupts into chaos (Chhattisgarh)
The Birra Thermal Power Project is in the Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh, an agricultural area where the state government has signed memoranda of understanding for 34 new thermal power plants totalling 34,000 MW, almost one-fourth of India's current thermal power capacity. Although the area lacks coal, it became a focal point for developers after neighboring Korba was listed as the fifth most polluted among the Critically Polluted Areas of India in 2009, leading the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to impose a moratorium on further environmental clearances. In an article entitled "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Prakhar Jain describes the following scene at a hearing to consider the Birra project:
- As loudspeakers announced the conclusion of the public hearing, the mob started hurling abuses. Company executives ran for their lives. A 100-strong contingent of sleepy policemen, watching the proceedings till then with disinterest, suddenly swung into action to ensure the safety of officials. The scene occurred at Birra village in the nondescript Janjgir-Champa district in Chhattisgarh on 22 September. The occasion was a public hearing for a 1,320 MW power plant proposed by Moser Baer. More than 1,000 people listened as one by one, the aggrieved presented their views. The crowd cheered when Puri Bai from Siladeh screamed that she won’t give her land at any cost. “Where would we and our children go?” she asked.
September 2011: Greenpeace calls for moratorium on new coal projects in Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh)
After releasing the 2011 report, "Singrauli: The Coal Curse," Greenpeace called for a moratorium on new coal mining activities in the Singrauli region, based on the findings of a Greenpeace team in the region that the projects "deprive the livelihood of displaced people and ruin their health." According to Priya Pillai, the communities are living in an atmosphere which is full of coal dust: "The people gave up their land for power that doesn't reach them."
In Singrauli, the Mahan, Chhatrasal, Amelia and Dongri Tal II forest blocks, which were earlier categorised as 'no go', are awaiting approval for coal mining from the government. Officially, 5,872.18 hectares of forest in the Singrauli region had been marked for non-forest use after the Forest Conservation Act came into force in 1980. According to the divisional forest officer of Singrauli, another 3,229 hectares have been proposed for such activities.
Singrauli is all set to become the country's "power capital" with a number of power plants coming up in Madhya Pradesh, apart from the nine open cast coal mines which are going to start production by 2014. The combined investment of all these projects is estimated to be over Rs 1 lakh crore.
September 2011: Moving Planet day of action
On September 24, an Indian delegation and US mountaintop removal activists will take part in "Moving Planet" day in support of fossil fuel-alternative energy, in West Virginia and India. The India delegation is calling on the World Bank to follow through with its proposal to dramatically cut funding for coal-burning power stations.
August 2011: Residents surrounding GNDTP Bathinda force shutdown of plant (Punjab)
Residents of Bathinda have been fighting the GNDTP Bathinda power station for the past decade because of the large amount of ash and other pollution it emits. Residents created a Joint Action Committee (JAC) to fight coal ash pollution created by the plant. M M Behal, convener of the JAC of Bathinda, said "It seems the state government is not serious about pollution caused by the thermal plants in Bathinda... Earlier we were facing the problem of high level of fly ash and coal smoke, but after National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning found traces of radioactive thorium and uranium in the fly ash lying at a thermal plant in Maharashtra, out worries have increased manifold. We are planning to approach the high court once again," said Behal. Bathinda residents contacted the Human Rights Commission to ask for protection from the pollution. In addition, the JAC filed a petition in Punjab and Haryana high court. These efforts resulted in a ruling that forced the Bathinda plant to modernize three of the four units by June 30, 2011. However, Behal said the work has not been completed as of August 2011.
On August 22, 2011, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced plans to shut down the Bathinda power plant. The Tribune reports "The thermal plant set up 37 years ago is to be dismantled as it has outlived its utility." Despite some renovations, the plant will be completely dismantled. "The thermal plant has been running without electrostatic precipitators that arrest the flow of ash from the chimneys, resulting in a thick layer of ash in houses." MM Behal said the Punjab government failed to meet its commitment of taking steps towards controlling air pollution by June 2010. A local eye specialist and medical doctor have stated that ailments related to pollution, such as eye diseases and respiratory illnesses among children, have increased.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Capt Amarinder Singh has publicly stated his opposition to the Bathinda plant closure. He states that the state of Punjab is already experiencing a shortage of electricity, and to close another plant will create an even larger shortage. he wants the Bathinda plant to make the necessary restorations and reopen.
August 2011: Farmer killed in demonstration against Gobindpura power station in Punjab
A farmer was killed and others sustained injuries when police lathi-charged a larger group of farmers who were protesting the acquisition of land for the 1320 MW Gobindpura thermal station in Mansa district of Punjab. According to one report 10 farmers and 5 policemen were also injured. According to another report, 30 farmers were injured. Nearly 50 vehicles were also damaged in the police action. The farmer, 65-year-old Surjit Singh of Hamidi village in Barnala district, sustained severe injuries during the lathi charge and his body was later found in a field. On August 3, thousands of people attended the last rites of Surjit Singh Hameedi, and MPs speaking at the ceremony demanded a judicial probe into the land acquisition as well as a probe into the killing. Jhanda Singh Jaithokey senior VP of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), charged the government of Dhief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with receiving kickbacks from the company acquiring land for the plant. On October 14, over 200 farmers were arrested while heading from Joga village toward the power project site, following a call to protest given by 17 farmers' unions.
August 2011: Farmers in Punjab start chain hunger strike against Gidderbaha power station
The Gidderbaha power station is a partially approved 2,640 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Ghagga village, Muktsar District, Punjab, India. The National Thermal Power Corporation has delayed construction for over a year because it has yet to obtain statutory clearances from the power ministry, pollution control board, and establish a coal linkage. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir has said the state government may elect to sign an agreement with a private company to develop the site if NTPC does not begin work soon. In early 2010, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) made an unprecedented decision to allow the National Thermal Power Corporation to sell 30% of its power to reduce power costs. PSEB has refused similar rights to other companies in the past.
The Punjab government has also been careful in acquiring 2,316 acres of agricultural land from local farmers. Land acquisition in Gobindpura "led to lot of hue and cry by farmers resulting in politicisation of the issue by the opposition Congress." Farmers in Theri, Babania, and Ghagga villages who would have to sell their land at state fixed prices have started "a chain hunger strike on the roadside demanding that higher compensation be fixed for fertile land." The government has currently set pricing at Rs 25 lakhs per acre.
June 2011: "We have no option but to beg for our lands, but begging is also a crime" (Uttar Pradesh)
In June 2011, farmers protested Bara Thermal Power Project near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh by staging a mass public begging, to dramatize that if the plant is built they will have no option other than begging. In footage broadcast by CVB News Service, Raj Bahadur Patel, a leader of the farmers, said, "The government acquired our lands without following the policy of land acquisition. We have been protesting for 300 days. The administration has said they will not do anything in the matter. We have appealed to the government to give us our lands as they are our source of livelihood. The farmers along with their families participated in the flag march today." Another leader, Arvind Patel, said, "We have no option but to beg for our lands, but this government says that begging is also a crime.
It was reported in February 2011 that villagers ransacked and damaged property at the site for the Bara Thermal Power Project. The protesters had reportedly inflicted damage worth Rs 1 crore.
June 2011: Protesters block railway to protest coal transportation to Udupi power station (Karnataka)
On June 1, 2011, activists with the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) blocked the Mangalore-Mumbai Matsyagandha Express train for 10 minutes in Nandikoor, Karnataka. The purpose of the protest was to show opposition to the transportation of coal by railway from the New Mangalore Port to the Udupi power station. According to the activists, a condition for the environmental clearance granted to the plant was that coal would be transported through a closed conveyer system. Transportation in open railroad cars was producing damage to crops, agricultural land, drinking water, and public health, according to the activists. Local resident Sundari Shetti complained, “The house is always coated with a thick layer of ash. I have difficulty in breathing and the constant drone of Lorries transporting fly ash way into the midnight has affected my health.” Village panchayat president Sunil Raj Shetty said that no permission had been sought from the local administration before giving the ash pond the green signal. He said, “It used to be a fresh water lake - the Daddikere Lake.”
May 2011: Mango farmers protest coal plants in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district
Farmers marched to protest coal plants in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, in an area known as the Konkan Coast. The protests were organized by the Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch, an organization leading a campaign against seven thermal power plants proposed for the district. In Pawas, Ratnagiri district, villagers protested with a hunger strike. In July 2011, JSW Energy - an Indian power producer controlled by the billionaire Jindal family - delayed the 3,200 MW expansion Ratnagiri Power Plant as it waited for coal-pricing “clarity” from Indonesia and Australia.
May 2011: Amnesty International takes up cases of activists imprisoned in Chhattisgarh
On May 28, 2011, two indigenous rights activists, Ramesh Agrawal and Dr Harihar Patel, were arrested in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh and denied release on bail.
The state police charged the two men with “circulating defamatory material”, “disrupting public order” and “causing alarm and panic among the public” at a May 8, 2010 mandatory public consultation, held by the state pollution board at Tamnar village, relating to the Tamnar II Project proposed by Jindal Steel and Power.
Agrawal and Patel expressed concerns that the expansion would lead to the forcible acquisition of lands from the surrounding local communities by the authorities. The two activists had objected to the proposal and cited an official inspection report which stated that the expansion began before the mandatory clearances were given. Ramesh Agrawal also successfully petitioned India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests to temporarily suspend the terms of reference for the expansion. Following a complaint relating to the delay, the state authorities decided to arrest the two activists.
Ramesh Agrawal works for the environmental rights organization Jan Chetna, and Dr Harihar Patel practices indigenous medicine. They had been actively campaigning against the pollution caused by existing industrial projects, including coal plants, and the potential negative environmental impact of proposed industrial projects in central Chhattisgarh. The two activists have been at the forefront of the campaign for the public disclosure of information relating to projects which affect local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities and for ensuring that these are available to the communities. Their arrest, Amnesty International believes, is intended to stop their peaceful campaign activities.
The two activists were sent to Raigarh prison until June 3, 2011, and a local court rejected their appeals for release on bail on June 2. Ramesh Agrawal, who complained of hypertension, was taken for treatment at a government-run hospital where he is being kept chained to his bed.
May 2011: MASS protests Mundra Ultra Mega (Gujarat)
In May 2011, a group known as Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) filed a collective protest against the Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project, saying there are high risks to the project without proper mitigation and accountability measures. The protest is targeted against the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, whose financing of high-risk coal plants in India faces community resistance. Its Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) has accepted a complaint against the Plant in Mundra, Gujarat. CAO is the independent body of IFC that handles disputes and compliance issues with its investments.
MASS says the plant is located in the special economic zone (SEZ) that cuts across fishing grounds, habitat of diverse marine lives and wide expanse of farm land, and that the project’s social impact assessment is significantly flawed, as fishing communities were excluded from the list of those directly impacted and IFC green lighted the loan without a cumulative impact assessment.
With a total project cost of US$ 4.14 billion, the IFC is investing a $450 million loan and $50 million in equity. Other financial institutions funding the project are the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Asian Development Bank, India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd., Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd., Oriental Bank of Commerce, Vijaya Bank, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, the State Bank of Indore and other local banks.
The MASS complaint came two months after villagers in Odisha state formally challenged IFC’s funding for the GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited.
April 2011: Villagers at Kakrapalli village in Andhra Pradesh mark 238 days of relay hunger strike
According to a report by the environmental television feature program Save India's Coast, villagers at Kakrapalli were continuing a relay hunger strike in order to raise pressure on governmental officials to finally cancel the Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project. The broadcast showed footage of houses damaged by smoke bombs during the police attack on town of Kakrapalli.
April 2011: Four killed in protests against anti-encroachment drive in Jharkand
The state of Jharkhand is home to one of the largest Adivasi (tribal) populations in India. It is also the location of an estimated 40% of the country’s deposits of coal, iron ore, uranium and other minerals. Jharkhand’s Adivasis have farmed and hunted on the land for millennia, but do not hold title deeds, but as the original inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent, Adivasis have ancient land rights protected by law. They are, however, being forced to leave their ancestral lands to make way for new mines, steel mills and hydroelectric projects, with little or no compensation.
Following resistance by local residents against house demolitions at Matkoria, four people were killed in clashes with police attempting to clear land owned by Bharat Coking Coal Limited. In addition, 21 people were injured and 27 arrested. Among the arrested were former ministers Bacha Singh and OP lal, Congress MLA Manan Mallick, and deputy mayor Niraj Singh. A curfew was imposed on Dhanbad town. Among those killed in the fighting was Vikash Kuman, an auto driver. Another fatality was that of Sanjay Paswan.The protesters blocked National Highway 32 between Dhanbad and Bokaro for several hours. Police used lathis and teargas to disperse protesters. A Mob set fire to offices of Bharat Coking Coal Limited at Kunsunda and Godhar. Protesters also set on fire a police check post in Matkuriya as well as three police vehicles. Nine people were reported in critical condition with bullet wounds. Among the injured were a half dozen members of the media, including four camera men. Most of those being subjected to the anti-encroachment drive had settled in the area 80 years earlier.
February 2011: Two killed, 25 injured in Andhra Pradesh
On February 28, 2011, in a set of clashes sparked by construction of the Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project by East Coast Energy, police in Srikakulam fired into villagers, killing two people and injuring nearly 25 others. The plant at the center of the violence was in the same district as the coal plant where two people were killed the previous July 2010, protesting the Nagarjuna Construction Company Sompeta Thermal Plant. The dead were identified as Sirapu Yerraiah (36) of Sirapuvani Peta and J. Nageswara Rao (35) of Akashalakkavaram. At least two of the injured were hit at close range with rubber bullets. Police used guns, teargas, and lathis against villagers, who used stones and sticks. After police threw smoke bombs in Vadditandra village, 50 houses were gutted. A police jeep was burned by villagers.
February 2011: Vocal opposition to DB Power coal mine and plant in Chhattisgarh
At a February 28, 2011 public hearing on the mine, 438 people spoke, none of them in support of the project. After public protest against the proposed mine, DB Power submitted an affidavit pledging not to conduct any mining operations in nagar panchayat land. A supplementary letter filed at the Feb. 2011 public hearing promised to re-site any proposed water tanks and coal piles from nagar panchayat land to the remaining leased area. Four villages, however, would still lose their lands. According to activist Ramesh Agarwal: “If the company is really giving up 350 acres of land, it should submit a new EIA report,” saying that the existing report was meaningless as giving up 350 acres of urban land would alter the mining plan of the project. The Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research group, criticised the report for not providing information on the mine’s impact on surface and groundwater sources, forests and fauna: “Almost 40 per cent of land in the project area is covered under forests …There are 11 reserved and 2 protected forests within 10 km radius."
January 2011: 25 people injured in Chhattisgarh protests
On January 17, 2011, at least 25 people were injured and over a hundred were taken into custody during protests by farmers against land acquisition by KSK Energy Ventures Limited, sponsors of the 3,600 MW KSK Mahanadi Power Project at Nariyara village in the Akaltara district of Chhattisgarh, about 170 km from the state capital Raipur. At issue in the protests is the prime quality of the agricultural land being made available for an estimated 40,000 MW of power plants planned for the Janjgir-Champa district. State Congress president Dhanendra Sahu told reporters, "It's a foolish decision, Janjgir-Champa has highly productive farm land and also has access to irrigation facilities. This is a conspiracy by the state government to hand over farmers' prime land to industries."
January 2011: Farmer killed in Bihar protest
In January 2011, a farmer involved in protests against the Nabinagar Super Thermal Power Project under construction in the Aurangabad district of Bihar was reportedly killed. According to the a report in The Times of India, the death occurred during "violent agitation" during which farmers "stoned a speeding train and clashed with police." Also in January 2011, Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Qaiser condemned the lathicharge and tear-gassing of farmers demonstrating for adequate compensation for land, formed a four-member committee to inquire into the incident, and demanded the unconditional release of farmers held in custody.
October 2010: Fisherfolk and salt pan workers rally against Adani Project (Gujarat)
On October 6, 2010, fisherfolk and salt pan workers in Kutch district spoke out in opposition to the Bhadreshwar Thermal Power Project (Adani), expressing concerns about the open cycle once-through cooling system due to the impacts of thermal pollution on marine ecology. According to the Bhadreshwar fishing community trade union, local communities in the vicinity of other coal plants on the Kutch coast have suffered from coal dust and fly ash especially during summer months due to arid conditions and the direction of wind towards land. Concerns include the effect of air pollution on fish drying and salt production, as well as on the famous Jain Vasai teerth, a pilgrimage destination for members of the Jain religion. Residents note that over 1,000 families are dependant on traditional fishing, and that the cumulative effects of multiple power plants have not been adequately considered. The trade union notes that the Adani Foundation has offered a compensation package to the fishing community but that the amount of the package (Rs.4 Crores) is a "lollipop," especially compared to the Rs.20 Crores of annula revenue from fishing on the Bhadreshwar coast.
July 2010: Two killed, 150 injured in Andhra Pradesh
On July 14, 2010, police in Adhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district fired on farmers and fisherman protesting a 2,640 MW coal plant under construction by Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC), killing two. In addition, 150 people were injured, including 45 policemen, during clashes between protesters and police. In the wake of the violence, police were deployed in about a dozen villages and banned assembly by more than five persons.
April 2010: Five arrested following scuffle between farmers and survey officials in Karnataka
Farmers of Honna Kiranagi in Gulbarga taluk "manhandled " officials attempting to survey land for the 1320 MW Gulbarga power station and burned a copy of the order authorizing the survey. Following a scuffle, Farhatabad police arrested five people including Karnataka Rakshana Vedike district unit president Arunkumar Patil and four farmers. The five were remanded to judicial custody for 15 days. The five were charged with attempt to murder and criminal intimidation. The outbreak followed months of agitation over acquisition of land for the 1320 MW project. At one meeting attended by 208 farmers, only one agreed to part with his land.
January 2010: Hanakon thermal project shelved after intense protest; protesters tortured (Karnataka)
On July 18, 2009, thousands rallied in Karwar to protest the proposed 450 MW Hanakon Thermal Power Project. The rally began at the Maladevi ground, and was followed by a meeting at Savitha circle. A series of speakers denounced the project as a threat to a biologically sensitive region, and criticized the company's suppression of protest. The protest passed the office of Ind Bharat Company, sponsor of the project. Protesters allegedly pelted the offices with stones, then attempted to block the national highway. A coalition of 24 groups submitted a joint memorandum opposing the project. Following a call for a bandh, or general strike, in response to police violence against protesters in Hanakon village, schools and colleges closed in August 2009. The bandh was also observed by shopkeepers of Nandanagadda area of Karwar. Students from multiple colleges marched to primary and high schools in Karwar, closing in each school. The project was shelved in January 2010. According to S R Nayak, chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, police tortured agitators in custody. During a hearing sponsored by the Commission, 40 people testified, including 28 victims of torture at the hands of police.
February 2009: Opponents win cancellation of Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station
The government halted expansion plans for APGenco to expand its Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station at Krishnapatnam in Nellore district. The plant size was expected to increase in size from 1,600 MW to 4,000 MW, cleared by government officials July 17, 2008. The government instead reallocated the land to Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) for onward transfer to Thermal Powertech Corporation. "It looks as though the state government came under sudden political pressure on behalf of Powertech because of which the expansion plans of a great performer like Genco was thrown to the winds and the land given to the private company," former Union power secretary E A S Sarma told the Times of India. Thermal Powertech had initially been allotted land in Machilipatnam in a prohibited coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) for its thermal plant. However, environmentalists were alarmed that the proposed site was a breeding ground for rare birds. In response, the government denied environmental clearance for the site. The land was reallocated to APIIC just weeks after the environmental clearance for the Thermal Powertech Corporation's Machilipatnam plant.
January 2008: Public hearing in Raigarh on Jindal Power mine ends in chaos (Chhattisgarh)
The following description accompanied a Youtube video filmed at a public hearing on a coal mine to feel the Jindal Power's Tamnar plant:
- On 5th January 2008, a public hearing was scheduled in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, for environmental clearance of a coal mine to feed Jindal's thermal power station at Tumnar. All the affected people were against handing over their land to Jindal, given the company's past record in environmental and human rights violation. Halfway through the public hearing, local goons appeared and shouted slogans on behalf of Jindal and its chairman Naveen Jindal. Short while thereafter the police lathicharged on the thousands of villagers injuring more than a thousand people. This video was shot by Ramesh Agarwal.
September 2007: 5,000 people rally in Mysore to protest Chamalapura power station (Karnataka)
Chalmapura power station was a 1,000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station proposed by Karnataka Power Corporation. The power station was proposed to be built at Chamalapura in Mysore district, Karnataka. Following an extended opposition campaign by local residents and supporters, the project was cancelled in late 2008. The opposition was described by S G Vombatkere as follows: "The agitations cut across socio-economic barriers and the urban-rural divide. Also, agitations were conducted independently by several civil society organizations at different levels, each according to its individual style and capability. There were 24x7 vigils at and around the proposed project site with village folk including women offering physical resistance to visitors in favour of the project, and street demonstrations and rasta roko in Mysore where peaceful protesters were beaten by police, arrested and charged under criminal law. There were lectures and seminars conducted in Mysore by intellectuals and activists, documentary films made by creative artists, students' protests, meetings, organized between village volk and city folk making common cause and explaining the environmental ill-effects of a mega power plant, and meetings to raise public awareness about the social and environmental ill-effects of the project. There were petitions to all levels of government, and a formal petition was made on October 19, 2007, to the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), cogently arguing that the project was quite unnecessary and undesirable. People lobbied with elected representatives, and delegations went to Bangalore to argue with government officials and political figures. A very significant event was a huge rally of around 5,000 people at the Town Hall in Mysore city centre on September 12, 2007, with leaders of all political parties and groupings excepting of course the ruling party at that time, and many intellectuals. Even some religious leaders lent support to the agitation."
August 2007: 6,000 people face displacement in Madhya Pradesh
Five villages -- Sidhikhurg, Sidhikala, Tiyara, Jhanjhi, and Harrhawa -- covering approximately 3,000 acres and with a population of 10,000 people are slated for displacement by the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in the far western corner of Madhya Pradesh, a state located in central India. The project will use coal from mines located 20 to 25 kilometers away, in Mohar, Amlori, and Chatrasal. The project is sponsored by Reliance Power.
Opposition to expansion of the Dahanu Power Station in coastal Maharashtra
According to an August 2007 press report, Reliance Infrastructure was in the process of getting the required clearances for a 1200 MW expansion at Dahanu Power Station. The expansion of the Dahanu plant is opposed by local farmers and fishermen, who complain about the effect of air and water pollution from the existing plant on chikoo orchards, mango orchards, and coconuts, as well fishing. One of the leaders of the opposition, Nergis Irani, led a successful campaign that resulted in the area's designation as "ecologically fragile" by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1991. In 1996, Irani's organization Dahanu Taluka Environmental Welfare Association (DTEWA) won a Supreme Court order creating the Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA) in "order to address the complex issues of planning and management of ecologically fragile areas." In 2005 the DTEWA won a legal order to require the plant to guarantee the setting up of flue gas desulphurisation by a bank guarantee of Rs. 300 crore, in order to end 18 years of delays in controlling sulphur emissions.
- Text of 1996 Supreme Court order in Bittu Seghal & ANR vs. Union of INdia and ORS
- Ministry of Environment and Forests Notification creating Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority - December 19, 1996, including 2001 amendments]
Film: People's War
In January 2012, film director R Narayana Murthy began shooting a film based on the police attacks on activists at Nagarjuna Construction Company Sompeta Thermal Plant and Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project in Andhra Pradesh. The film, titled "People's War," features Murthy in a lead role along with actors Srihari, Posani Drishna Murali, and Telangana Sakuntala. Locations in Sompeta, Baruva, and Santabommali mandals would would featured in the film.
- Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment (LIFE) - see Athena Chhattisgarh power station
Articles and resources
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- "Actor Abhay Deol joins protest against coal mining in Singrauli," The Times of India, January 12, 2012
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- "National Green Tribunal directs that no construction begin till all approvals are obtained by OPG," Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) blog, February 15, 2012
- "Thermal Power Plants on the Anvil," Prayas Energy Group, August 2011, p. 2
- "Rail and Road Blockade" orissabarta.com, Jan. 6, 2012.
- "Protest at Hinduja power plant," Deccan Chronicle, December 13, 2011
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- "Public hearing disrupted for Mahaguj project," Business Standard, December 9, 2011
- "Violence at Mahahuj public hearing worsens land crisis," The Pioneer, December 13, 2011
- "Activist nun who fought Indian mining companies brutally murdered" The Globe and Mail, Stephanie Nolen, November 18, 2011.
- "Seven arrested for nun's killing in Jharkhand" NDTV, November 20, 2011.
- "Hounded by those she had fought for" Manoj Prasad, Indian Express, November 21, 2011.
- "Public hearing on power plant stalled" The Hindu, Oct. 4, 2011.
- M Suchitra, "Public hearing for thermal power plant in Andhra Pradesh turns violent," DownToEarth.org, October 10, 2011
- Prakhar Jain, "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Tehelka Magazine, January 21, 2012
- "Protest at Hinduja power plant," Deccan Chronicle, December 13, 2011
- Amanda Wilson, "Indian activists take fight against coal to World Bank" Asia Times, Sep. 22, 2011.
- Balwant Garg, "Bathinda residents want thermal plant closed," The Times of India, September 1, 2011.
- SP Sharma, "Ash-spewing Bathinda thermal plant to be shut down," The Tribune News Service, August 22, 2011.
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- "PSEB approves sale of 30% power from Gidderbaha thermal project," The Financial Express, April 10, 2010.
- VK Gupta, "Gidderbaha thermal power project proves to be a non-starter," Punjab State Electricity Board of Engineers' Association (PSEB), August 20, 2011.
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- Rajesh Kumar Singh, "Billionaire Jindal’s JSW Delays Power-Project Expansion on High Coal Costs" Bloomberg, July 22, 2011.
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- "Fishermen’s voice in Kutch still unheard, public hearings for Adani projects to go ahead," Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), Kutch, Gujarat, September 29, 2010
- "NO Thanks: Fisherfolk reject CSR package and say NO to Adani's KPGL power project in Bhadreshwar," Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), Kutch, Gujarat, October 17, 2010
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- "Reliance Energy to boost Dahanu plant capacity by 1,200 MW," Newsonprojects.com, August 17, 2007
- Sara Sidner, "Activist Nergis Irani Takes On Reliance in Dahanu," CNN, January 17, 2010 (posted on Parsi Khabar)
- Dahanu Taluka Environmental Welfare Association (DTEWA)
- Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA)
- Michelle Chawla, "How Dahanu epitomises the environment vs development debate," InfoChange, April 2009 (five part series)
- Kakarapalli "Shooting of film on Somepta firing begins today," The Times of India, January 27, 2012
Related SourceWatch articles
- Map of the impact of coal mining in India, Coalscam.org
- "Annexure 1: Some examples of use of Bombay Police Act 1951 Sec, 37(1)(3) prohibiting gathering of people in Ratnagiri district connection with protests against ‘development’ activities unacceptable to them," (Annexure to Madhav Gadgil, "Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts: Summary report of the Maharashtra Government consultation, 30th September & study tour, 4th to 11th October, 2010)
- "How Crony Capitalism Lead to the Kakarapalli tragedy," The Argumentatitve Indian, March 1, 2011
- "Srikakulam battle far from over," NDTV, July 24, 2010
- Rahul Wadke, "Yet another Maharashtra power plant faces villagers' ire," The Hindu Business Line, October 31, 2011
- "Moratorium on new projects in coastal Maharashtra extended," Thaindian News, January 10, 2011
- Smruti Koppikar, "The Rape of Eden," Outlook India, December 20, 2010
- Prakhar Jain, "Chhattisgarh: How to destroy a district," Tehelka Magazine, January 21, 2012
- Aman Sethi, "Power plants insulated from protests, villagers shocked," The Hindu, February 5, 2011
- "Energy Policy Special," The Movement of India, September 2010
- Kartikay Mehrotra and Rakteem Katakey, "India’s Rich Halt Power Plans in Setback to Prosperity: Energy" Bloomberg, Jan. 18, 2012