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NAPM Condemns the Police Firing on peaceful protesters in Srikakulam District, AP

by NAPM, 26 February 2011

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National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
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Punish the Guilty and Cancel Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project

New Delhi, February 25 : The memories of the police killings, atrocities in Sompeta are yet to fade and the government of Andhra Pradesh is back to terrorizing people. Today morning the Srikakulam District Authorities deployed a large number of Police force, imposed Section 144 and started mass arrests of people – including women – without any incidence of violence or provocation and without issuance of any Warrant. Police destroyed the tents of those sitting on relay hunger strike in Vadditandra village and Hanumanth Naidupet. Police then resorted to firing at the villagers, injuring 8 people. There have also been reports of the police beating villagers and terrorizing.

NAPM strongly condemns the high handedness of the police and illegality of their action and demands immediate action against the police officials. As a background, since August 2010, villagers have been protesting at Vadditandra village, Santabommali Mandal in Srikakulam District, against setting up of 2640 MW Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project, constructed by East Coast Energy Pvt. Ltd. The project is located within the internationally recognised Wetland system of Naupada swamps and just 2.5 kms away from an important Bird Area Site (IBAS) Telineelapuram. According to environmental laws of India Wetlands are protected areas, where no polluting activity can be taken up.

Earlier the Environment Clearance granted by MoEF to the company on 9th April 2009 was challenged in HC and National Environment Appellate Authority. Ignoring the fact that the company had started construction, even before the formal EC from MoEF, in connivance of district administration and state government, NEAA and HC both dismissed these petitions. However, NEAA in its order dated 7-9-2010 had laid down additional conditions, including a) “No filling and raising of land beyond 1317 acres within wetlands of which 150 acres would be greenbelt”, and b) “No activity in identified 483 acres of land which includes 8 acres of proposed pond near the temple”. The company has continued to violate these conditions and also failed to return 500 acres of land, which it promised to surrender on the southern side of the site, in deference to the ecological concerns that were raised. ECPCL obtained Environment Clearance from MOEF on the basis of this assurance. In reality, ECEPL never surrendered the land. Instead, it formed a benami company, Meghavaram Power Company Ltd. (MPCL) to set up another 500 MW plant within that 500 acre land, thereby hoodwinking MoEF and violating its own assurance given to EAC. On this ground alone, the Environment Clearance (EC) is liable to be revoked.

The farmers and the fishing communities of Kakarapalli have been protesting since it impacts their livelihood and blocks access to natural resources. The conditions here are similar to the one in Srikakulam where the EC granted to Nagarjuna Construction Company was cancelled after the protests and police firing which claimed lives of two people. We strongly condemn this and urge the MoEF and State Government of Andhra Pradesh to cancel the project and demand action against the district administration and company officials, and immediate withdrawal of police force and relief to those injured and arrested.

If in this age and time we continue to believe in the ideal that ’Development flows from the barrel of the Gun’ then it is a shame for the democratic traditions and principles and complete violations of Constitution. We stand by those struggling against the nefarious designs of corporations who are constantly scheming to wrest control of natural resources and exploit them for the profit making.

Medha Patkar, Thomas Kocherry, Sandeep Pandey, Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Prafulla Samantara, Roma, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Ajay Kumar, Saraswati Kavula, Anand mazgaonkar, Pervin Jehangir, Madhuresh Kumar

For details call : Saraswati Kavula 09849718364