Violence broke out during the public hearing over a proposed 100 MW captive thermal power plant at Bhalabadrapuram village in East Godavari district on Wednesday. Some people suffered minor injuries in the incident. As the efforts of the police and the officials to restore normalcy failed, the collector postponed the hearing.
Midway through the hearing, some people opposed to the plant, who gathered in large numbers at the proposed project site, hurled stones and chappals at the officials and also the representatives of the KPR group, which is setting up the plant, demanding that the proposal be dropped as it posed a pollution threat to the surrounding areas. This triggered a reaction from those in favour of the plant. Both groups engaged in heated arguments, hurled stones and chappals at each other and also on to the dais, where collector Neetu Prasad and other district officials were seated.
Even as the police resorted to lathicharge, the officials made a bid to come out from the melee. However, the surging protestors forced the officials to retreat to the dais. The collector also tried to pacify the agitators but in vain. With this, she postponed the public hearing and left the spot. She directed the police to register cases against the people who caused the trouble.
The KPR group is setting up a drugs manufacturing unit at Bhalabadrapuram and obtained permission from the state government to set up a captive thermal power plant with Rs 400 crore investment to ensure uninterrupted production at its unit.
Earlier, the collector asked public to tell their objections if any about the proposed power plant. Many speakers opposed the plant stating that they did not want any environmental problems caused due to the ash and other pollutants emanating from the thermal power plant.
When the collector asked them to be specific about their objections, none responded.
YSRCP leader Padala Ramu said the district administration did not inform public sufficiently in advance about the hearing.
About 1,600 metric tonne of coal would be used for power generation in the thermal power plant as a result of which 130 metric tonne of ash would be produced.
“We are opposing the power plant as it would cause severe damage to our farm lands and also our health,” he said. He demanded that the collector conduct the public hearing in villages instead of the power plant site.