Tuesday, October 21, 2014

US study on Reliance's UMPP termed part of "malafide intention" by foreign NGOs to "malign Indian cos"

By Our Representative
Strongly defending the Reliance Power Ltd’s Sasan ultra mega power project (UMPP), under attack by a group of American NGOs for “neglecting” people’s livelihood and environment, a pro-UMPP blogger, Prof Satish Rai, has said this seems to be “part of the efforts by foreign NGOs/ foreign funded NGOs to stall development work in countries like India.” Citing the latest study (read HERE) by NGOs led by Sierra Club, top US environmental group, Prof Rai calls it just an “extension of the malafide intentions by foreign NGOs to malign the image of Indian companies and large scale infrastructure projects.”
Prof Rai, who reacted the study in his just-created blog, has approvingly quoted the controversial Intelligence Bureau (IB) report submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accuse “foreign funded NGOs” such as Greenpeace, Cordaid, Amnesty and Action Aid for “serving as tools for foreign policy interests of western governments by sponsoring agitations against nuclear and coal-fired power plants”, leading to negatively impacting “GDP growth by 2-3%”.
A scan through Prof Rai’s blog shows he is a “teacher” and is based in “Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh”, but nothing beyond. Virtually acting as Reliance UMPP’s spokesperson, Prof Rai says, the US study makes “whole lot of baseless allegations not only against the project managers, but it also assumes that there is no law and order or monitoring mechanism in India that can ensure fair resettlement and rehabilitation initiatives by large corporate houses.”
“The allegations against the company such as abductions of locals, demolition of houses in the middle of night, compensation below government notified rates give an impression that India is a country with virtually no law and order and governance”, Prof Rai says, insisting that “this is just ridiculous.”
Prof Rai argues, “The project comprises of six units of 660 MW each and in last one year five units have become operational within a gap of three months each.” Despite this the American report “accuses the project of spreading air and water pollution and contaminating the ground water.” He wonders, “How can a power plant within couple of months contaminate the ground water of its surrounding villages?”
Disputing the American study’s “claims” that Reliance Power failed to provide basic amenities like education, drinking water etc. to the local resettled families, Prof Rai says, “The fact is that it has been actively involved in various social and environmental organizations to address the issue of sustainable development and social upliftment in areas around its power plant sites. The company in discharge of its responsibility as a corporate citizen actively contributes to community welfare measures and takes up several social initiatives.”
He adds, “The company has built a school at the site for the children of the affected families and other children of the villages around the sites. The company provides free school bus facility for the students, stipend to every child who attends school, free uniforms, study tours for children, teaching aids to the teachers, training of teachers,as well as night schools for uneducated adults etc. Over 1,000 children are getting quality education in this school.”
Apart from this, Prof Rai says, “The housing colony constructed by Sasan Power is filled with all facilities such as primary health centre/ medical centre, water pumps, temple, local community office, etc.” In fact, he points to how the efforts of Sasan Power towards integration of the local community “were recognized nationally and Sasan Power has received the prestigious Greentech Award for Outstanding achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility.”
Coming to the the company's safety and environment protection norms, Prof Rai says, “they are in line with the stipulations specified by India's Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF). The complete ash handling system at the plant is mechanical and automated, there is no manual handling of ash in the entire process; therefore, the allegation of workers getting infected with skin disease due to this is completely baseless.” He concludes by suspecting “a hidden agenda” by foreign NGOs while producing such reports on Indian mega projects.

No comments: