Over 1000 residents from villages in the Alibag taluka in Maharashtra gather to take part in a giant human art formation of a windmill, to voice their opposition to coal fired power plants planned in the region. The Maharashtra government is considering plans to approve 10,000 MW of new coal power plants by the Reliance, TATA, ISPAT and Patni groups. 60% of India’s power currently comes from coal, the major cause of climate change. India needs to shift away from a fossil fuel based energy pathway to greener sustainable energy options.
They were demanding that the Maharashtra Government drop plans
to build 10,000MW coal-fired thermal power plants in the region and
explore renewable energy instead. The villagers said they were
committed to fight the acquisition of their fertile land for
coal-based power plants.
"We believe that the energy planned from these coal plants is
dirty. It can come instead from clean alternatives like wind and
solar energy, and by using energy more efficiently. We will not
give up our land and our future to these mega power plants that
will pollute our air, land, and water. We will not allow them to
ruin our children's future by adding to the problem of climate
change," said Dr Vishnu P. Mhatre of the Naugaon Sangharsh Samiti,
one of the organisations fighting for clean energy here.
The community is opposing plans to set up thermal power plants
over 8,500 acres of fertile land. The companies involved are the
Tata Power Company Limited (1,200MW) and the Maharashtra Energy
Generation Limited, a Reliance subsidiary, (4,000MW) at Shahpur in
Alibag. The Patni group (500MW) and the Ispat group (2,000MW) want
to set up their plants in the adjacent Medekhad Khadi.
For more than four years, the villagers have been resisting
attempts by the government and the companies to acquire their land.
"We do not oppose production of energy. But, we strongly demand
that the Government of India change its energy pathway and move
towards decentralised renewable energy, which will be used locally
for agro-based industries and domestic needs," said Satish Londhe,
a resident of Alibag and state coordinator of the Shramik Mukti
To prove their solution-oriented approach, the citizens later
joined in setting up a wind station. Admiral Ramdas, a Magsaysay
awardee and a resident of Alibag, inaugurated the "Citizens' Wind
Monitoring Station" where the residents would record the area's
wind potential through an anemometer. This would show that the
region has huge potential for wind energy, and challenge the
government's inaction in investing in alternate energies.
"Policymakers in the central and state governments need to
explore the possibility of renewable resources like the wind, the
sun, and other agents before rushing to coal for energy. In the
current environment of global concern over climate change, we must
also look critically at the operational efficiency of our power
plants and increase energy efficiency in all sectors. This will
ensure a dramatic reduction in our energy demand," Ramdas asserted.
Maitree Dasgupta, Climate Campaigner with Greenpeace India,
said: "This protest is a sign of popular opposition fomenting
against coal in India, which will only grow. This not a fight
against growth or development. It is just the opposite. It is a
fight for building energy infrastructure for the future instead of
relying on dinosaur technologies. India can get 35% of its power
from renewable energy by 2030. We have the ability and technical
capacity; we only need the political will."
Greenpeace India is demanding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
put in place a National Renewable Energy Bill no later than 2010,
which would enable a shift towards a more sustainable energy
pathway. This implies that the draft bill be made public this year
for debate before placing it for parliamentary approval. It would
also provide a framework for the Solar Mission and show that India
is serious about the mission. More than 50,000 Indians have already
signed Greenpeace India petitions demanding a response on this from
Satish Londhe, State Coordinator, Shramik Mukti Dal; +91 94233 77433
Dr. Vishnu P. Mhatre, Naugaon Sangharsh Samiti; +91 94233 80896
Maitree Dasgupta, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace; India +91 99001 45422 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ankit Srivastav, Greenpeace India Communications; +91 98671 68498
Preethi Herman, Greenpeace India Communications; +91 9901488482,
Notes to Editor
Refer to Energy [R]evolution