FRAYED TEMPERS: Damaged chairs lying at the venue of the public hearing on KPR Thermal Power Plant at Dontamuru in East Godavari on Wednesday. Photo: S. Rambabu.The public hearing on the proposed 100 MW thermal power plant of KPR Industries (India) Limited on Wednesday between Dontamuru of Rangampeta mandal and Balabhadrapuram of Bikkavolu mandal in East Godavari district was disrupted by villagers and some ‘outsiders’.

A total of 40 persons, including four policemen, were injured in lathi-charge and stone-pelting. Police took 20 persons into custody.

Tension mounted as police used force against a group of people that threw stones and ‘chappals’ on the dais where District Collector Neetu Kumari Prasad and other officials were seated and also on the Collector’s vehicle.

As the situation threatened to get out of hand, the Collector postponed the public hearing. KPR Industries, which runs a chemical factory in Bikkavolu mandal, acquired land for the captive thermal power plant for its proposed caustic soda plant and another pesticide factory between Dontamuru and Balabhadrapuram. It is alleged that the villagers were given information about the hearing only two days before it was supposed to be conducted.

People from the two villages began coming to the venue since morning and the number swelled to 5,000. Some of them carried placards and banners and raised slogans against the proposed power plant.

Apprehending trouble, the administration mobilised a large number of policemen.

Padala Rama Reddy, former ZPTC member, led the villagers in raising slogans against the management just before the Collector arrived. As soon as she started the proceedings, a woman began talking in favour of the plant. There was utter chaos as she was shouted at by the villagers.

Amid slogan shouting, a youth hurled footwear at the dais and the Collector ducked just in time.

When the police tried to detain the youth, the protesters resisted, leading to a tussle between the two sides. The Collector then announced the postponement of the hearing. As she was leaving the place, more footwear were hurled at her vehicle forcing the police to resort to lathi-charge.

Ms. Neetu Prasad told The Hindu that one could register protest peacefully or make a representation, but the people who had come for the public hearing were violent and were brought from other districts such as Visakhapatnam. The management had already acquired the land and the villagers were aware of the situation.

Environmental concerns

Environmental concerns of the people were addressed in the text summary of the Environmental Impact Assessment report of the company, she added. Ramachandrapuram DSP S. Srinivas said they had video recorded the proceedings and action would be taken against outsiders based on the footage. On the other hand, Mr. Rama Reddy said the management had brought outsiders who attacked the villagers.

Courtesy: The Hindu