The public hearing on the proposed expansion of Narla Tatarao Thermal Power Station (NTTPS) scheduled to be held on Friday is going to give some tense moments for officials and engineers of AP Power Generation Corporation Limited (AP-GENCO) and NTTPS as several villages have passed resolutions against the project fearing a spurt in environmental pollution and represented their grievances to the District Collector M. Raghunandana Rao and Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) demanding that the project should be stalled.
The APPCB was to conduct the public hearing in September last but had to postpone it due to protests against bifurcation of the State.
The NTTPS has six units of 210 MW each and one 500-MW unit and it is the proposed expansion of its capacity by 800 MW that has stirred the Hornet’s nest in its conceptual stage itself. The proposed unit is coal-based and its requirement is 3.95 MTPA to be sourced from Madhya Pradesh and its capital cost was pegged at nearly Rs.5,290 crore.
The people of Guntupalli, Kethanakonda, Kotikalapudi and other villages situated in close proximity to the power plant have resolved in their meetings to oppose the expansion project on the ground that it will aggravate pollution, and dismissed the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) made by Hyderabad - based Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited (REEL) as a farce.
Their argument is that the scientists and engineers who made the field studies commissioned by REEL presented a distorted picture of the actual situation prevalent in their villages and that the huge quantities of fly-ash spewed into the air have been damaging crops in more than 5,000 acres and the new unit will only make matters worse. Besides, the ash-pond is blamed for contamination of groundwater.
Obtaining public consent on Friday is going to be an uphill task as people are upset with the Government’s alleged negligence in addressing their concerns.