A public hearing regarding the 250MW coal-based power plant by Mahagenco near Paras (Akola) scheduled for April 29 has been cancelled amid opposition from environment activists. On Monday, Akola Environmental Action Group (AEAG) and Vidarbha Environmental Action Group (VEAG) had strongly opposed the coal-based power plant
MPCB had requested Akola district collector to hold a public hearing for expansion of thermal power project at Paras in Balapur taluka in Akola on Wednesday at 11am. On Monday, VEAG delegation met Rajendra Goenka, director of MSEB Holding Company, requested him to take up the matter with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule.
Bawankule discussed the issue with Goenka and said that the government has decided to scrap all new projects of Mahagenco except one at Eklahre (Nasik) and one at pithead of coal mine allotted in Chhattisgarh.
In view of this fact, Goenka urged him to cancel the public hearing as it will be a wasteful expenditure and also public opinion is against the project. Minister then directed Mahagenco managing director to cancel the public hearing.
AEAG and VEAG had also taken up the matter with local MLAs and political parties, who agreed to oppose the power plant since there is no need for new power plants in Vidarbha since the state is already power surplus. Also, huge quantities of fresh water can be saved for drinking and irrigation needs of water-starved Akola region.
Maharashtra has become power surplus mainly due to commissioning of many new power plants in Vidarbha region, where generation has exceeded 10,000MW. However, the demand of all 11 districts of Vidarbha has remained stagnant at only 1,200MW, mainly due to negative growth of Industries. Balance 8,800MW is transmitted to rest of Maharashtra where demand for power is very high.
The transmission line losses are over 250MW resulting in loss of about Rs 1,000 crores per year. These losses are recovered equally from consumers all over Maharashtra, thus a consumer in Vidarbha is compelled to pay the cost of transporting power to Mumbai-Pune region.
As reported by TOI, 132 power plants have been proposed here, including 28 in Nagpur (17,070MW), 58 in Chandrapur (28,114MW), 16 in Bhandara and Gondia (22,035MW), 19 in Amravati and Yavatmal (13,845MW), 6 in Wardha (2,843MW), 3 in Gadchiroli (2,000MW) and 2 in Akola (Paras expansion).
The 132 plants in Vidarbha will need around a lakh acre farm land and 3,600 mm3 water. With that much amount of water, over 5.5 lakh hectare land can be irrigated. The proposed power plants will burn 18 lakh tonne coal per day turning Vidarbha into an ash dump.