Satpuda Thermal Plant faces threat of closure

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Betul, MP, Jul 4: The Sarani-based Satpuda Thermal Power Plant faces threat of closure if a new ash dyke is not created within a year for which land acquisition has hit a roadblock.

A 'gram sabha' was organised in the presence of Collector Arun Kumar Bhatt and Satpuda Thermal Power Plant Chief Engineer Sitaram Raghu in Vikrampur village yesterday to inform villagers about terms of land acquisition.

Villagers were informed about proposed compensation of Rs two lakh per hectare and other facilities worth Rs 1.5 lakh for land belonging to 180 tribal families in five villages.

However, tribal expert Anil Garg, who represented the villagers, said a notification in this regard was issued on February 15 without taking tribals into confidence. Land cost shot up in March and land acquisition officer cannot approve compensation of Rs two lakh per hectare.

Villagers demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh per hectare and a concrete package for rehabilitation and threatened to move the Supreme Court and stage demonstrations if forced to cede land.

The Satpuda Thermal Power Plant Management proposed to acquire land for setting up two new units at a cost of Rs 2,300 crore.

Besides, it had sought permission from the Centre for constructing an ash dyke on 433 hectare land including 333 hectare private land and 180 hectare government land which includes 80 hectare forest land.

The old ash dyke has increased more than its height and could contain ash for at most one year.

Admitting that the thermal power plant could be closed if a new ash dyke was not created, Mr Raghu told UNI over telephone that strengthening the base of existing ash dyke and increasing its height was being mooted.

The Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited had been awarded contract for setting two new units in March. Power production was expected to start within 39 months.

UNI

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