May 8, 2008

Local ire jams Suzlon windmills

Wind turbine major Suzlon’s operations at Sangli and Satara in Maharashtra have hit a major roadblock. Agitated villagers of Chikhli village in Satara district on Wednesday forced Suzlon-run windmills to shutdown, protesting the manner in which the land acquisition was done. On top of it, angry villagers threatened to uproot the windmills, if Suzlon doesn’t resolve the land acquisition issue.

Confirming the incident, a senior state official told FE, “Villagers have been protesting against the land acquisition procedure and demanding the land back, as they feel they have been cheated. Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh recently held a meeting to discuss the issue and asked the concerned departments to look into it.”

The official said Suzlon has adopted a unique model in Maharashtra, wherein the company is a manufacturer of wind turbine & other equipment and also a developer. “Suzlon as a developer seeks various permissions for wind farms, acquires land and achieves financial closure for the investor who takes the benefit of depreciation. In Sangli and Satara, Suzlon acquired land for investors and has supplied over 900 windmills.” However, the villagers have sold their land mostly through mediators, and it seems the villagers have a strong feeling that they have been under-paid.

Suzlon confirmed the Satara incident, and pointed out, “Only 41 turbines out of the 566 installed at the Satara site have been shut down due to disturbances in the area…The disturbances at Satara are due to disputes relating to that specific land only. The dispute pre-dates Suzlon’s wind farm that began in 1999-2000. The wind farm is in operation for more than 10 years, contributing electricity to the state and assisting in community development of the relevant area.”

In Sangli and Satara, 700 MW of wind power is generated. The state’s installed capacity of wind power is 1,700 MW. The official admitted that the protests would affect the operations of windmills there. “Generally, windmills operate at the maximum capacity during mid-May to September due to good wind velocity.

Sanjay Jog

The Financial Express

8 May 2008

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