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Pollution: villagers launch protest against NTPC

By Our Staff Reporter

KARIMNAGAR, MAY 20. Villagers of Kundanapalli, Mallialpalli, Akbarnagar, Mogilipahad and Badripalli villages in Ramagundam mandal protested against the National Thermal Power Project (NTPC), Ramagundam, for causing environmental pollution and health hazards to the villagers from the NTPC ash pond located in Kundanapalli village.

During the whole of last week, villagers have been staging dharnas, rasta rokos and also obstructed work at the ash pond site. The villagers complained that the dry ash was engulfing their villages and causing serious health hazards to the elderly and children. The ash, which is being raised due to the wind, is being accumulated in layers all over the villages including vegetation. Following the filling up of the existing ash pond, the NTPC authorities have decided to raise the height of the pond to increase the capacity of the tank to accommodate more ash from their plants.

Earlier, the ash pond was having several water sprinklers, which used to dampen the ash and avoid raising of dust in the air. However, in view of increasing the height of the pond, the authorities, instead of using mud to increase the tank bund, were using ash from the pond by removing all the existing water sprinklers, thus causing pollution.

The villagers alleged that the authorities, in order to reduce the cost of the construction, were using the available ash for increasing the tank height and causing environmental pollution by removing the sprinklers. The local people said that they had informed the NTPC authorities about the prevailing pollution problem, but in vain. She said that several villagers were developing lung diseases and even the food was getting contaminated with the ash pollution, which is even entering the houses.

The villagers demanded the NTPC management to take measures on a war footing to reduce air pollution by using adequate water sprinklers or else shift them from the villages by providing the necessary compensation and alternative shelters. Acting on a complaint lodged by the villagers, the Ramagundam police have registered a case against the NTPC authorities and the contractor under IPC sections 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health) and 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) and arrested four persons.

The arrested persons include the DGM (civil), N.C Kothari, the deputy manager, H.S Ramaswamy, the environmental officer, V Ravi Babu, and the contractor, Srirama Rao. They were produced before the court on Thursday. However, the quality control officer, Vidyasagar Rao, is absconding. On the other hand, the villagers' agitation gained political colour with the entry of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi leaders on Thursday. The TRS Myadaram MLA-elect, Koppula Eshwar, along with the TRS leaders, organised a rail-roko programme at the Ramagundam railway station demanding the NTPC authorities to take measures on a war footing to avoid air pollution from the ash pond. TRS activists, alongwith the villagers, detained the Andhra Pradesh Express train bound for New Delhi for a few minutes at the station.

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