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Katwa Thermal Power Project, West Bengal, India


National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has proposed to develop Katwa super thermal based power unit at Srikhanda village in Bardhaman district of West Bengal [1]. The Left Front government had backed up the initiative for an area of 1,050 acres. West Bengal Power Distribution Company Limited was supposed to set up the plant for which 550 acres was acquired. Under the 11th Five-Year Plan, West Bengal state government plans to set up four power plants in Birbhum, Purulia, Murshidabad and Burdwan districts, with a total capacity of 3,390 MW. But the acquisition of land earmarked in Katwa (Burdwan district) has run into considerable opposition from farmers and landowners. They claim it is rich multi-cropped agricultural land that they will not give up. Katwa block, with 32 villages, is largely dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The place is well irrigated, and produces three seasonal crops and vegetables. Ninety-five per cent of the people here are marginal farmers whose lives and livelihood depend on their land.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Katwa Thermal Power Project, West Bengal, India
State or province:West Bengal
Location of conflict:Village: Srikhanda; District: Bardhaman
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Initially, NTPC had planned for a super critical (800MW x 2) 1,600 MW power plant but land scarcity and other factors led to it being scaled down to (660MW x 2) 1,320 MW project. The project requires 150 acre of more land and almost 99 per cent of the owners have given their consent. So far, the project has 565 acre of land which was acquired by the erstwhile Left government. The project will require seven million tonne of coal annually. [1]

Project area:424
Level of Investment:1,630,000,000: (Rs 8,000-crore)
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from India
West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd (WBPDCL) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of West Bengal, West Bengal Pollution Control Board
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Krishijami Krishak Khet Majoor Bachao Committee(KKKMB]: Save Agricultural Land Cultivators and Agricultural Workers Committee [5]
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Many Right to Information applications have been filed regarding details of the acquisition have either been met with stony silence or vague answers.
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsMost agricultural workers, especially women, whose livelihood depends on land, are excluded from the job market on grounds of lack of skills and expertise. Regarding the compensation and rehabilitation is exclusionary both in form and content. Women rarely possess land records in their names and are hardly ever counted as agricultural workers.
Compensation also bypasses unrecorded sharecroppers, agricultural workers and others who are dependent on activities allied to agriculture, and, in this particular case, those dependent on fishing (the proposed land acquisition includes a water body). In the case of Katwa, the government has not even outlined any form of rehabilitation for the land-losers [5]
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:Farmers and landowners claim that the land is rich multi-cropped agricultural land that they will never give up for the proposed power project.   
NTPC will acquire the 150 acre directly from the landowners at an agreed price without governments help. Farmers have given in writing that they will sell their holdings for the project. Farmers now seek an increased price factoring in inflation. They are now asking Rs 15-16 lakh per acre [6]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The company was able to bring down the land requirement from 1050 acres. This happens because of new technology and a revised plan on fly ash management. This has been able to scale down the land requirement. Initially, NTPC had planned for super critical (800MW x2) 1600 MW power plant but land scarcity and other factors led to it being scaled down to (660MW x2) 1320 MW project [3]
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

An Overview
[click to view]

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 –

[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

NTPC firm on Katwa thermal power plant project
[click to view]

[5] Katwa thermal power plant: Down but not out
[click to view]

NTPC soon to commence work on Katwa project
[click to view]

NTPC awaits 1600 MW Katwa thermal project handover
[click to view]

[3] NTPC Katwa Project Hits Coal Mine Hurdle
[click to view]

[1] NTPC faces hurdles in Katwa power project
[click to view]

[2] NTPC to set up Katwa thermal power project
[click to view]

জট কাটল, কাটোয়া প্রকল্প হচ্ছেই
[click to view]

[4]জট কাটল, কাটোয়া প্রকল্প হচ্ছেই (in Bengali)

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Stalemate finally ends on NTPC thermal power project at Katwa.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update20/07/2014
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