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Rajpura Thermal Power Project, Punjab, India


Description:

Rajpura Thermal Power Project (Nalash) is a 1400 megawatt (2x700 MW) coal-fired power plant located at Nalas in Punjab. The first unit of the 700 MW super-critical (2x700 MW) Rajpura thermal power plant at Nalash village in Patiala district became operational in December 2013. The plant was inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The next unit (700 MW) of the plant would come up by March 2014 [1].

Hundreds of farmers in the district protested the acquisition of 1078.16 acres of land by the Punjab government for setting up the super thermal power plant near Nalash village. The protesters gheraoed the house of Rajpura BJP MLA in August 2008 and demanded a higher compensation of Rs 1.5 crore against Rs 34 lakh per acre alloted by the government [2].

Also, unemployed youth from seven villages, whose land was acquired to set up thermal plant in Nalas village, staged a dharna for not getting jobs in the thermal plant despite government promises [3].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Rajpura Thermal Power Project, Punjab, India
Country:India
State or province:Punjab
Location of conflict:Village- Nalas; Rajpura; District- Patiala
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Land
Electricity
Coal

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The plant is the first major coal-fired power plant to be owned and operated by L&T through a Special Purpose Vehicle - Nabha Power Limited. Nabha Power Limited (NPL), was established as Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) by erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to develop the Rajpura Thermal Power Project at a site near village Nalash , Distt Patiala, Punjab. An RfQ/RfP was floated by PSEB in line with the Case 2 competitive bidding guidelines, Govt of India (GoI) and L&T Power Development Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of L&T) was identified as the lowest bidder. NPL has signed Power Purchase Agreement on 18th January, 2010 with PSEB and the NPL was also transferred to L&T Power Development Limited as its wholly owned subsidiary on 18th January, 2010. Further, NPL has signed MOU with Govt. of Punjab for enhancing the capacity of the present plant by establishing an expansion unit of 1x700 MW adjacent to the current plant location [4]

Project area:436
Level of Investment:$1,547,613,785 (Rs 9,600)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5000
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Nabha Power Limited from India
Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Punjab
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Agitation committee formed by local villager against the power plants, Unemployed youths of nearby villages

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Strikes

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Potential: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, 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
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:Government has given Rs 1.5 crore per acre for construction of airport near Mohali, in Punjab. Villagers are asking for the same amount of compensation [2]
Prostestors also demand employment for maximum number of people from surrounding villages [5]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:While acquiring their 1,078 acres of fertile land, had promised to employ maximum number of people from surrounding villages, but now most of labourers and other employees have been hired from outside the state. During the construction work local villagers did not get jobs despite promise. The government forcefully purchased their land at a very low price and most of the farmers were unhappy. The government had made promises to make their lives better, but their demands are not met. Also the heavy machinery plying on the village road has damaged the path and made the village roads inaccessible. [3]
Nabha Power Limited, the company that is constructing the thermal plant, said that they had employed around 100 villagers, including unskilled labourers. They also are going to recruit more people from these villages. They also promised that the demands will be sorted out soon [3].

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
http://dolr.nic.in/dolr/downloads/pdfs/Right

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

L&T to sell thermal power plant in Rajpura
http://www.livemint.com/Companies/RzC0giOgKvDW9F7W1ChAmN/LT-to-sell-thermal-power-plant-in-Rajpura.html

[1] First unit of Rajpura thermal plant becomes operational
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-12-08/news/44943032_1_power-plant-lt-power-first-unit

[2] Punjab farmers protest land acquisition for thermal plant
http://zeenews.india.com/news/states/punjab-farmers-protest-land-acquisition-for-thermal-plant_462587.html

[3] Unemployed youth demand jobs at Rajpura Thermal Plant Their land was acquired to set-up the plant and were promised jobs
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110201/punjab.htm#4

[4] About NPL
http://www.larsentoubro.com/lntcorporate/common/ui_templates/HtmlContainer.aspx?res=P_NPL_BABT_AOVR

[5] Rajpura Thermal Power Project
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Rajpura_Thermal_Power_Project

Punjab Cabinet clears 1,320-mw Rajpura thermal power project
http://www.financialexpress.com/news/punjabcabinetclears1-320mwrajpurathermalpowerproject/426198

Article in Hindi about farmers' protests
http://business.bhaskar.com/article/100223231546_farmers_protest_into_rajpura_thermal_plant.html

Farmers demand money for development
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100303/punjab.htm#2

Small farmers big losers in stateÂ’s land acquisition story
http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/small-farmers-big-losers-in-states-land-acquisition-story/99/

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update22/05/2014