GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited is 1050 MW (with an additional 350 MW) coal based thermal power project located at Kamalanga village, Odapada Block, Dhenkanal district, Odisha.
Location: Odisha, India
Total Cost: US$100 million
The source of water for the power plant is Bhramani River, which runs along Kamalang village. The coal used for the project would be sourced from Talcher Mahanadi Coal field, which is about 43 kilometer from the GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited
The Revenue Block where the project is being constructed is identified as a critically polluted area, which led the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment to impose a temporary moratorium on all new projects in the area in 2010. This Block is the 7th among 88 highly polluted hot spots the Ministry has identified.
The land that has been acquired for the project used to be a fully irrigated agricultural land. The entire area was irrigated by the water from the Rengali Project through its sub canals. The project has been running for the last 10-15 years, however, the Rengali Canal reached the project area in 2002. Rengali left bank canal system was funded by the World Bank. Currently, the entire irrigated land is acquired for GMR power project. The sub-canal system in the area is now blocked owing to project construction. Flow of water has been stopped.
This shows serious contradictions in Bank’s investments. On one hand, it finances a water system to irrigate agricultural land. It’s a commendable use of money. On the other hand, it finances a thermal power plant requiring the acquisition of the same agricultural land which is at risk of being devastated and polluted.
The project is marred with serious social and environmental issues, which at present is not addressed by the company. There is also no mechanism for consultation, project participation and grievance redressal.
The CAO complaint can be found here (CAO website).
 Office Memorandum J-110113/5/2010-IA.II(I), Ministry of Environment and Forests; dated 13th January, 2010
 Comprehensive Environmental Assessment of Industrial Clusters (2009) Central Pollution Control Board Pg 24
Concerns over Non Transparency Regarding Financial Intermediary (FI) Subprojects:
Funding through Financial Intermediaries has been a serious concern for a very long time now.
- Lack of Information available regarding the FI subprojects is a serious concern. Some of these projects are high risk projects with hardly/no information available to the affected communities.
- Inability to secure the most fundamental information about financial intermediary subprojects is not consistent with IFC’s supposed commitment to transparency.
- There are no basic minimum standards or guideline that needs to be met with in care of FI subprojects. The performance standards are not applicable to FI projects. This would also be the case even if subproject is a high risk project according to categorization of IFC Projects.
- The risks of FI projects could be the same as those directly funded by IFC, we don’t understand the reason as to why different yardsticks have to be used for the projects.
Concerns regarding GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited- Thermal Power Project:
1. No Information available:
There is no information regarding the environmental impact assessment or the social impact assessment publicly available. There is neither disclosure of who the affected people are, nor information about the risks and impacts of the project. Even after repeated complaints and requests with the government departments and the company, none of the documents were made available.
There is no information available on the pollution emissions about the sub-project nor disclosure about the pollution mitigation plan. The area where the project is located is a zone already critically contaminated by industrial wastes going into the water streams. The fluorine content in water is very high. People in the area commonly suffer from flurosis and joint pains. Industrial wastes also severely affect the animal health; skeletal flurosis and diseases in sole can eventually make them incapable of walking. This sub-project worsens the pollution people are already suffering from.
The cumulative impacts of project along with the industries already functioning in the areas of Talcher, Angul, and Meramandali industrial belt, which could be adverse as identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, were neither disclosed nor presented for public hearing. It only exacerbates the pollution caused by the existing operations of the following companies.
The project is located close to the Bhramani River and is the source of raw water for the project. Pollution of River Bhramani is well documented by now. The industrial waste and dust together pollute the river, which is the lifeline of the district, to a hazardous level. People on the banks use this water for domestic use, including cooking, and for livestock. Dependency on this water source for their basic needs cause several diseases to the people and livestock living around.
3. Community Health, Safety and Security have been compromised
Due to the dynamite blasting at the project site, a number of houses and even the nearby primary school building have developed cracks. With hundreds of students, the school still functions but in a damaged condition. Risk of building collapse is high, endangering lives of students, if dynamite blasting continues or if natural disaster were to happen.
Security guards, dogs are present within the compound if the project area. The alternate route has not been constructed and people need to use the project area to access the connecting road. Presence of massive dogs, number of police posts with police who keeps checking unnecessarily is intimidating especially to children who use the same road to reach their school.
The company has been using ground water for the project. There is still no official information if the company has been permitted to use ground water for the project. Only water from River Bhramini has been allowed to be taken for the project under environmental clearance. A deep bore well (approximately 300 feet deep) is being used to pump ground water, which results to a considerable drop of ground water level in the area. The bore wells in the villages have very scarce water now, negatively affecting people’s water consumption.
The company has never demonstrated consideration for community health. They use agricultural land and farms which are adjacent to the project area as dumping ground for their garbage. It continues to ignore villagers’ requests to not dump their garbage.
4. Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement: violations of mandatory requirements:
Bad consultation process: Public hearing is a prerequisite to any kind of land acquisition process in India was not conducted by the company before acquiring the land. A meeting held after repeated requests from people was later treated as a public hearing.
Land acquisition and acquiring process is deeply flawed:
The total area d acquired by GMR for the sub-project is 1200 acres. It is divided into: 900 acres for private land and around 300 acres for government land. The private land is mostly agricultural had had been well irrigated by the Rengali Canal System. This private land has affected almost 1,300 families in 4 villages, who have lost their land, crops, trees and other properties. They are now economically displaced; so are the agricultural laborers and share croppers. Roughly, thirty-five percent (35%) of the land belongs to the Dalits and twenty-five (25%) to the scheduled tribes. Most of the farmers are small cultivators and small share croppers.
Of the 1200 acres of land acquired, 180 acres belonged to approximately 300 families who are members of the schedule tribe, Kharia. “Scheduled tribes” are indigenous peoples with formal recognition by Indian Constitution and relevant national laws.
Company has acquired irrigated land, and is now forcibly acquiring the remaining private land. Nine families went to the local court demanding appropriate compensation and job in the project in lieu of their land and livelihood dispossessions. In 2010, however, the District Court passed a judgment in favor of the company. They appealed to the High Court seeking to reverse the district court’s verdict. The case remains at the High Court.
5. Community Resources misused/destroyed:
Almost 300 acres of government land acquired includes cremation ground, grazing land (100 acres), small forest (70-80 acres comprising of perennial and social forestry), 6 ponds and a perennial stream. The company assigned an alternate land for cremation ground while an alternative grazing land offered is 50 kilometer away from the sub-project site. It is practically impossible for people to take their cattle for grazing to the new site.
Community resources like water (ponds, ground water) have been misused by the company. Using of ground water has not been allowed for industrial purposes in the area. Trees on the land acquired were destroyed. Last produce from the agricultural lands was not allowed to be harvested and was raised without informing the affected people.
6. Exacerbating poverty and economic displacement:
Right compensation for losing both land and lively hood was not given to people affected (those who had lost their land).Still a number of affected people have not received their compensation. Yet others have filed court cases against the company for undervaluing the cost of land that the company has acquired.
7. Harassment and intimidation:
One of the major concerns has been that use of force and power to intimidate people. People were framed under false charges and false cases were registered. Women and men were randomly arrested and implicated in false cases. These people were falsely charged with attacking the GMR office at the project site. Women and men were harassed beaten up by police. People were tortured and beaten in prison before releasing them. Even after the release, threats and highhandedness of police have followed and still continue to create an atmosphere of fear amongst the villagers. The 46 people who were arrested ever since the time they were released have to go to the Police station every Monday to sign police registers. Most of them still unaware of the charges, have been harassed and threatened and forced not to ask for their basic rights.
Grievances of the affected villagers:
- Denied the affected people of their right to pass through the project area to get to their work or homestead;
- Denied the affected people (whose land has been acquired) to work on the project, in spite of earlier promise by the company to provide them jobs. Residents of Durgapur village lost the land, received inadequate compensation and have no work at the project site;
- Provided no information about livelihood restoration plan in spite of repeated requests and complaints;
- Showed no compliance to established laws and procedures on land acquisition;
- The pump house that is being built on the banks of River Bhramini for the project is being built on the land that belongs to the Kamalang High School. 14 acres of school land have been acquired. The company has acquired land for grazing, which had been earlier assigned for upper primary schools at the villages of Achalkut, Barasahi and Kaliatod;
- Company has also identified few influential people from the company by giving them special privileges and money, who engineered conflict within the community.
- Harassment and highhandedness of the police.
There is little information to ascertain IFC’s support to this particular subproject. Neither the IIF nor the ‘fund manager’ as represented by IDFC has clear, robust and predictable disclosure, social or environmental standards in place that is comparable to IFC’s standard requirements for its direct investment project clients. While IDFC says on its website about an Environmental Management and Social Development Group working towards rigorous environmental and social due diligence and benchmarking IDFC investments against best practices, there is no information available, neither of the application of such standards or policies, nor reports if due diligence had been verified.