Public hearing on power project held under tight security

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Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, Nov 28 (UNI) The public hearing on the proposed 1,320-MW Cuddalore Power Company (CPC) was held in the District Development Council Hall here under tight security.

The administration had distributed tokens to three persons from each of the 18 villages to be displaced by the project to ensure orderly conduct of the hearing.

However, this only angered the residents who felt all the villagers should be given an opportunity to attend the public hearing.

Anticipating trouble, the administration made elaborate security arrangements. Vehicles were thoroughly checked and invitees frisked before allowed entry.

Later, talking to newspersons, PMK MLA T Velmuguran condemned the 'supression of democracy' by district administration and the police in not allowing people to air their views freely.

He said the PMK will hold a demonstration before the District Collectorate on December 10 besides undertaking a signature campaign against the project.

Today's public hearing was conducted in the presence of District Collector Rajendra Ratnoo and top officials of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

The public hearing held a couple of months ago ended abruptly owing to protest by people of at least a dozen villages who claimed they would be displaced by the project and became restive over the land acquisition move.

They gheraoed Collector Ratnoo and later blocked traffic on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram Road.

To avert any such incidents, the authorities made elaborate arrangements and distributed tokens to the villagers this time.

Making their case on the grounds of cost and environmental protection, critics of the project including labour unions and environmental groups questioned the need for the proposed plant.

The project was unnecessary as the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) would have sufficient power at its disposal and it would not be able to bear the cost in view of the Board's ''precarious'' financial condition, they claimed.

UNI

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