March 11, 2012

Adivasis powerless as power flows from Attapadi

A Satish, The New Indian Express, Cable News Network-Indian Broadcasting Network (CNN-IBN), 11 March 2012

ATTAPADI: The trek to the hillocks of Nallasingha ooru in Attapadi, more than 90 km from Palakkad, would convince anyone that the land was uncultivable and that was the reason why the windy terrain remains uninhabited. Suzlon Energy had purchased 645 acres of this land based on a study by the Agency for Non-Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (Anert) which found it suitable for setting up a wind farm. The lands were purchased by Sarjan Realties Limited and Subh Realties (South) Private limited on which Suzlon set up 31 windfarms.

“The process of setting up the windfarm began in 2007-08 and all the 31 windmills were in operation by 2009. While the power produced from 23 windmills was being transferred to the Agali sub-station and onward to the Mannarkad transmission centre, the power from the remaining eight was being transferred directly to the common grid through the Kavundikal pool,’’ said the Assistant Engineer of the Mannarkad sub-station of the KSEB, Abdul Nazar.

The power produced from the windmills could vary widely as there was largescale fluctuations.

The power produced by each of the machines was as high as 4,00,000 units per day sometimes and as low as 20,000 units. In the windy season from June to December, each windmill produced on an average of 2.50 lakh units per day, he added.

“Each machine had a 600 KW turbine. All the 31 units put together had a capacity of 18.6 MW of which at least 16 MW is transferred to the common grid,’’ said KSEB sources.

Though Suzlon had purchased 645 acres, only 36 acres had been allotted to the 31 investors. Each investor was allotted 1.2 acres of land along with each windmill which was reportedly sold by Suzlon for Rs 3.6 crore.

A top official of Suzlon on condition of anonymity said, “We wanted to set up 80 MW of power in Attapadi in three years but as the adivasi land issue hotted up, most of the investors backed out. The financial institutions were also loathe to lend to the investors to purchase wind mills in such a situation. Now three years and two months have passed after commissioning the windmills and we have produced 1305 lakh units of power and fed it to the KSEB.’’

He added, “We had submitted a proposal to the government to rehabilitate the displaced tribals by providing them fertile land. We are ready to surrender a portion of the land and also install pumpsets as part of our corporate social responsibility for distribution to landless tribals who have lost land,’’ he said. President of the Attapadi block panchayat M R Sathyan of the Congress said, “In a power-starved state, the issue should be resolved soon and the project allowed to function.’’

Former Electricity Minister A K Balan said, “During the LDF rule, we had appointed a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to go into the purchase of adivasi land by Suzlon. Action should be taken on the report and against those who had connived to facilitate the transfer of adivasi land. Since cultivation was not suitable due to the high velocity winds, the proposal for a revenue-sharing arrangement with the tribals from the power generated could also be considered,’’ he said.

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