KICS Sharing Session #39 Challenges in the Socio-Environmental Regulatory Governance of Thermal Power Plants in India (with specific reference to TPPs in Telangana)
Speaker: Meera Sanghamitra
Date and Time: October 21, 2017, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Venue: CWS Conference Hall, 12-13-438, Street No. 1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad - 500017
Coal-Fired Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) contribute a lion’s share to the installed power capacity of this country, contributing about 76% of the total electricity produced. Over the decades, the social and environmental impacts and implications of these plants have been a major cause of concern, both to the government and civil society. The past two decades, also witnessed the slow evolution of a legal and regulatory regime that governs these plants. While on the one hand, climate change and cheaper availability of renewable energy sources are pushing governments and project proponents to re-consider prioritizing thermal plants, we are still, as a country, grappling with the socio-environmental costs of numerous TPPs that have come up in the past decades as well as quite a few plants that are in the offing. At the heart of this, lies the role of the regulatory institutions that have a mandate to ensure compliance with law, protection of environment and rights of affected communities.
The Speaker would like to share her preliminary findings, questions and concerns on this aspect, based on her work in the past 9 months, with specific reference to the social and environmental regulatory processes of Bhadradri, Yadadri, Ramagundam and Kothagudem TPPs in Telangana. She would like to present the status of regulatory governance with regard to some of these projects and thereby raise questions about the violations and gaps in the regulatory mechanisms. This is based on her analysis of relevant documents and discussions with sector actors, civil society activists and field visits. Some of the key issues that would be covered include environmental impact assessments and monitoring, environmental clearance, land acquisition and rehabilitation, covering the entire project life including planning, construction and operation.
The sharing session will begin with a presentation of key highlights and status of regulatory governance with regard to the above projects and thereby raise both specific and larger questions about the violations and gaps in the regulatory mechanisms that merit review. Along with sharing some of her own suggestions to improve and strengthen the regulatory mechanism, to ensure greater compliance on the social and environmental aspects of TPPs, the speaker shall also invite feedback and inputs from the participants to fortify the regulatory mechanisms as well as informed participation of civil society.
Meera Sanghamitra was trained as a lawyer in Hyderabad and has had an abiding interest in environmental and social justice issues since college years, when, along with a few other friends, she co-founded a small group called Grassroots. Between March 2008 -June, 2016, she has been associated and travelling with activist Medha Patkar and was involved full time with the Narmada Bachao Andolan – understanding and engaging on an everyday basis with the democratic struggle of thousands of oustees for decentralized development; right to land, livelihood, rehabilitation, environmental justice; touching at multiple levels, the interface of The People, The State, The Society. She has also been involved with various activities of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) during this entire period, in different capacities, including as a National Organizer and National Convenor. As she continues to be part of NAPM, she is also presently working as an independent researcher on the social and environmental regulatory aspects of Thermal Power Plants in Telangana, as a Girish Sant Memorial Fellow-2017 (co-ordinated by the Prayas Energy Group).
Sharing session is one of the regular activities of Knowledge In Civil Society (KICS) trust. These are organised around contemporary themes relevant to KICS work as an exercise of learning from each other. The objective is to deepen our shared understanding of the theme and to appreciate the key cross linkages, especially in the realm of Science, Technology & Society. You can find a list of previous sharing sessions here.
Chitra Krishnan was trained as a civil engineer at IIT Madras following which she worked on water resource issues in rural Kerala before pursuing her Master’s in Environmental Engineering in USA. Her working stints in different rural contexts and an organic farm in the USA influenced her markedly in her research quests. She completed her PhD from IIT Delhi on the traditional irrigation system of South India (tanks and anicuts). Her research publications include “The State and Drought: Villagers’ Experiences” and “Irrigation Infrastructure: The Case of the Tungabhadra River”. She is currently practising dryland horticulture in Tumkur district, Karnataka and is involved in research studies looking at design and implementation issues of green infrastructure.