Gobindpura power station

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Gobindpura power station, also referred to as the Mansa power plant, was a proposed 1,320-megawatt (MW) coal plant in the state of Punjab, India. The project was cancelled in 2014 in the wake of intense community protest.

Location

The map below shows the location of Gobindpura, but not the exact location of the project.

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Background

The 1,320MW project is proposed for Mansa district by Poena Power a subsidiary of Indiabulls Power. The plant has been the focus on a heated controversy over land acquisitions. In August 2011, a farmer was killed and over a dozen people were injured in a police lathi charge in Gobindpura.[1]

In March 2014 it was reported that Poena Power has been awaiting a power purchase agreement with the state government to begin construction. Sources claimed the state government had refused to sign the PPA with Poena Power, claiming it was already a power-surplus state.[2]

Project cancelled; land to be used for solar plants

In 2014, over two years after police action against protesters left one dead and over a dozen injured, India Bulls announced in April 2014 that it was awarded letter of awards by the state of Punjab for two solar plants, one 30 MW and the other 4 MW, using 175 out of the 750 acres that it acquired for the plant.[3]

Citizen opposition

Land dispute

The Punjab government is acquiring 882 acres for the project. Of those, farmers owning 166 acres were objecting to the acquisition process. The objections were backed by 17 farmer associations.[4] Some farmers claim they are being pressured to sell their land. “Only those people who have smaller landholdings are pleased to sell of their land” said Davinder Singh, who owned 24 acres nearby the plant. He claims the police are threatening to take control of their home by force if they will not accept the government-fixed compensation. His elderly father-in-law (who cultivates the land with his son-in-law) said that the police along with "notorious elements" from nearby villages had purposely broken water lines with tractors to harass them. Mansa Deputy Commissioner Ravinder Singh denied allegations that the government or district administration was pressuring villagers.[5] The rate of payment was raised from 23.68 to 25 lakh per acre after farmers protested. Some still refuse to sell their land because they would be unable to buy land elsewhere with the compensation provided.[6]

Meanwhile, the president of Indiabulls, Alok Aggarwal, said "If people are protesting, it means we are on the right track. We will complete the project within stipulated time frame with the support of the Punjab Government”. Indiabulls is offering employment, including construction contract work and "other help" to villagers who still are unwilling to sell their land. Even with the protests, Aggarwal claims the project will be completed within 32 months once the boundary wall (between the plant and local villages) is finished.[7]

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

August 2011: Surjit Singh killed in demonstration

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.[8] 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.[9]

October 2011: 200 Protesters Arrested

Two hundred farmers turned protesters were arrested October 14, 2011 on their way to the Gobindpura Plant. Their plans were to stop the construction of the plant after seventeen farmers unions called for protests. The farmers demand that the 166 disputed acres be excluded from the plant, which has already acquired 882 acres for the project. The Deputy Commissioner, Ravinder Singh, claimed only 91 acres of land is disputed.[6]

NGO files petition against Punjab government

The Universal Human Rights Commission (UHRO) filed a writ petition in an Indian court December 20, 2011. It claims the government "grossly violated the SC/ST Act" (Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act) as well as not paying the agreed settlement to those involved in clashes with police earlier in 2011. UHRO president Satnam Singh Dhaliwal said “The fundamental rights of Gobindpura villagers were violated by the state machinery for setting up the private thermal plant". The first hearing is scheduled for February 14, 2012.[10]

Project Details

Sponsor: Poena Power a subsidiary of Indiabulls Power
Location: Bhupal and Harsinghwala villages, Mansa taluk, Mansa district, Punjab
Coordinates: Units 1-5: 30.719984, 76.083426 (approximate)
Status: Cancelled 2014
Capacity: Units 1-5: 270 MW (each)
Type:
Projected in service:
Coal Source:
Estimated annual CO2:
Source of financing:
Permits and applications: Terms of Reference for units 1-5, India MoEF, October 6, 2010

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "Gobindpura power plant issue: Badal invites farmers for talks," Day & Night News, undated, accessed February 17, 2012
  2. Bharat Khanna, "Talwandi Sabo, Gobindpura power plants may not go on stream for some more months," Hindustan Times, March 01, 2014.
  3. "No coal linkage for 1,320 MW thermal plant,India Bulls set to tap solar power," The Indian Expres, April 9, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Farmer dead in Mansa land acquisition stir," The Tribune online, August 2, 2011
  5. Gurdeep Singh Mann, "We are being forced to accept relief: Farmers" The Tribune Online, October 13, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gurdeep Mann "200 held on way to Gobindpura" The Tribune Online, October 14, 2011.
  7. Gurdeep Singh Mann, "Despite the protests, project to be completed on time: Indiabulls" The Tribune Online, October 13, 2011.
  8. "One dead, 30 injured in Punjab land clashes," livepunjab, August 3, 2011
  9. "Thousands attend cremation of farmer who died at Mansa," The Tribune online, August 3, 2011
  10. Raakhi Jagga, "NGO’s petition comes up for hearing on Feb 14" The Indian Express online, February 13, 2012.
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References