Residents of Kariyawan, a not that much known village of Jaynagar block of Koderma district, presented a brave face to power giant Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) for the sake of their future and of coming generations.
Buckling under a series of protests, the company was forced to shift its proposed fly-ash pond 190 metres away from where it was being proposed originally.
A district administration official said that an agreement has been reached between the DVC and locals for shifting the ash pond site for the Koderma Thermal Power Station (KTPS) that has more or less satisfied both the parties.
“Earlier, the fly-ash pond was being built at a distance of 30 meters from Kariyawan village for the thermal power plant. The villagers were apprehensive about pollutants coming out of the ash pond which could have compromised with the productivity of their farm lands as well as human health. Following the objection and meeting with Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board, villagers and district administration the pond site has been shifted 220 meters away from the village,” said Koderma DC Sanjiv Kumar Besra on Monday.
The pond to be used to settle the fly-ash generated out of burning the carbon fuel in the thermal power plant was earlier located just 30 meters away from Kariyawan village. Though the DVC had acquired total 581 acres of land belonging to 32 villages of the district for the power plant, the ash pond which is to come up on 300 acres was particularly closer to Kariyawan, forcing about 1500-odd residents to go up in arms.
The issue also collected sufficient political attention, especially from parties in the Oppositions in the form of JVM and the left parties. JVM supremo Babulal Marandi, leading a delegation comprising Subodh Kant Sahay, Bhuvneshwar Mehta had also submitted a memorandum to the Governor for intervention.
“The locals have been opposing the proposed flyash pond for a long time now. DVC is violating the set regulations of the Pollution Control Board which are in place to ensure that the air pollution caused by the pond will not affect agricultural production and cause health-related problems to the villagers. However, the DVC has chosen to violate these regulations with the help of the local police and administration. Even now, the matter is not settled and resentment exists there,” said vice president of the party Saba Ahmed.
Early this month one such attempt to commence with the construction led to a dharna and protest by the locals forcing the work to stop. “The situation was tense there on ground. Then a PCB team visited the place and held a meeting with the DC and the villagers. later, it was decided to shift the ash pond 220 meters away from Kariyawan village which is non-hazardous with the latest technology. This apart, the DVC has to fulfill all set norms for plantation, setting up a health sub-centre and playground at the place. At present the demarcation exercise has started and boundary is being built for the ash pond,” said Prabhat Kumar Bardiyar, Koderma SDO and added further that the company had agreed to do plantation on 118 acres and fulfill all the conditions which obtained no-objection certificate from the JSPCB.
Foundation for the 1,000 MW power plant was laid by DVC in Jainagar in 2008. Its first 500 MW unit of began operations in 2012 and second in 2014. However, the KTPS has been able to generate not more than 500 MW in the absence of an ash pond, causing huge financial dent on the DVC. The stalemate has had several rounds of meetings with the Corporation officials and Government seeking a way out.