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The thermal power plants planned by a private power firm on the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border will have an adverse impact on the rich biodiversity of southern districts of Orissa, particularly the Mahendragiri hill in Gajapati district, according to environmentalists.
Hyderabad-based East Coast Energy Private Limited (ECEPL) has proposed to set up two coal-fired thermal power plants at Kakarapalli near Sompeta in Andhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district at an investment of Rs 12,000 crore. The Andhra Pradesh Industrial Investment Corporation (APIIC) has allotted around 990 hectares of land to the company.
The proposed power plant site is at an aerial distance of 25 km from Mahendragiri, an ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) protected site. The Mahendragiri peak, a part of the Eastern Ghats, is also famous for its rich biodiversity. The green activists in the state have warned that the proposed coal-based thermal plants will surely affect its flora and fauna.
“The state government should raise this issue with its counterpart Andhra Pradesh government as well as Government of India to protect the biodiversity of the historic Mahendragiri hill as well as its adjoining areas like the Lakhary Valley elephant sanctuary”, said president of Orissa Environmental Society, S N Patra.
The Orissa Environmental Society and Dakhina Orissa Development Council have written to the state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik about the adverse impact of the proposed thermal plants of ECEPL.
The Orissa government, however, was yet to raise its objection, even though the locals of Andhra Pradesh have continued to oppose the project.
The villagers of around 29 villages in Srikakulam district who are set to be affected by the power project have been staging a dharna near the proposed site which entered its 500th day on Monday. The villagers, several of them being Oriya speaking fishermen, launched the agitation after two persons were killed in police firing on February 28. Divisional Forest Officer (Paralakhemundi), J S Mohanty said, “It is not known what technology the company would adopt for the proposed plant. The ash particles of the thermal plant, however, would impact the flora and fauna of the Mahendragiri in Gajapati district”.
Not only the flora and fauna of the Ganjam and Gajapati districts, but also several Oriya speaking fishermen will be lose their livelihood when the wetlands would be converted, said K Alleya, executive body member of the National Fish Workers’ Forum .