Punjab and coal

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Coal plants in Punjab, India

For a full list and map of all coal plants in Punjab, India, go to CoalSwarm's Global Coal Plant Tracker and choose Region South Asia, Map India - Punjab.

Opposition to power plants

August 2011: Residents surrounding GNDTP Bathinda force shutdown of plant (Punjab))

Bathinda thermal plant pollution

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.[1][2]

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.[1][2]

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.[3]

August 2011: Farmer killed in demonstration against Gobindpura power station in Punjab

Agitation against forcible land acquisition by BJP/Badal govt in Mansa intensifies

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.[4] According to another report, 30 farmers were injured.[5] 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.[4] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 Balwant Garg, "Bathinda residents want thermal plant closed," The Times of India, September 1, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 SP Sharma, "Ash-spewing Bathinda thermal plant to be shut down," The Tribune News Service, August 22, 2011.
  3. Gagandeep Ahuja, "Capt Amarinder opposes closure of Bathinda thermal plant," Punjab Newsline, August 23, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Farmer dead in Mansa land acquisition stir," The Tribune online, August 2, 2011
  5. "One dead, 30 injured in Punjab land clashes," livepunjab, August 3, 2011
  6. "Thousands attend cremation of farmer who died at Mansa," The Tribune online, August 3, 2011
  7. "200 held on way to Gobindpura," The Tribune online, October 14, 2011
  8. VK Gupta, "Gidderbaha thermal power project proves to be a non-starter," Punjab State Electricity Board of Engineers' Association (PSEB), August 20, 2011.
  9. "PSEB approves sale of 30% power from Gidderbaha thermal project," The Financial Express, April 10, 2010.
  10. 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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