Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lok Satta Committee to go into Sompet thermal project issues

Lok Satta demands amendment of Land Acquisition Act and creation of Independent Authority

The Lok Satta Party today expressed deep shock and consternation at the tragic loss of life and bloodshed at Sompet. The Party expressed deep condolences to the families of the dead and the injured in the agitation against the location of a thermal power project near Sompet in Srikakulam district.

In a statement, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan announced the constitution of a committee headed by Mr. Bhisetty Babji, the party’s State Vice-President and Vizianagaram district unit President, and comprising experts and retired officials to go into the issue. The Committee comprises Mr. Kothakota Polinaidu, Prof. D.Vishnumurthy, Mr. Kona Mohana Rao (Advocate), Mr. Tammineni Annamnaidu (Advocate), Mr. Punnana Koteswara Rao (Retd. Dy. Collector).

Dr. JP regretted that the Government had allowed the situation to come to a boil, instead of preempting it. Any development project will necessarily give rise to conflicts of interests. A responsible and responsive Government should reconcile and harmonize conflicting interests. The Administration was clearly lost all credibility and resort to force has become a habit in sensitive issues.

There should be a credible, fair and independent mechanism to determine the location of projects and the extent of lands required for industrial and infrastructure projects. This independent authority should also have the power to determine compensation and rehabilitation.

Least extent of land with least dislocation of people’s lives should be the norm. Land losers should be compensated with money, a share of the developed land, and guaranteed jobs in the projects. Only when people have real stakes they will come forward to support industrialization. For this the Land Acquisition Act should be amended, and an independent quasi-judicial authority should be created to ensure fairness and stakes to all sections.

There are festering problems elsewhere also about location of projects. For instance, the farmers of Naguluppala Padu Mandal in Prakasam district are agitated as irrigated lands giving two crops are being acquired for Genco power projects. All such problems should be promptly addressed by an independent credible authority for determining location, extent of land, compensation and rehabilitation.

He appealed to the Government to invite the local people for a discussion at least now and arrive at a satisfactory solution.

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