Drop pumped storage hydroelectric projects granted to various private entities in Fifth Schedule region, HRF urges Andhra Pradesh government

The Hindu | Jan 17, 2023

‘Adivasis in these areas have been deliberately kept in the dark’

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demanded that the State Government drop the pumped storage hydroelectric Projects (PSPs) granted to various private entities in the Fifth Schedule region of Alluri Sitarama Raju and Parvathipuram-Manyam districts.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Tuesday, V.S. Krishna, HRF AP and TS Coordination Committee member, said that there are proposals for four PSPs in the Fifth Schedule region that have been cleared by the State Government recently.

These are: Yerravaram PSP in Chintapalli and Koyyuru mandals and Pedakota PSP in Ananthagiri mandal, both in Alluri Sitarama Raju (ASR) district, and Kurukutti in Salur mandal and Karrivalasa in Pachipenta mandal, both in Parvathipuram-Manyam district.

While Adani Green Energy Ltd. has been permitted to set up the PSPs in Kurukutti, Karrivalasa and Pedakota, the Yerravaram project has been handed over to Shirdi Sai Electricals.

The recently created New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of AP (NREDCAP) is the nodal agency for these projects. Each of these projects are to have an installed capacity of 1,000 MW and above.

HRF has visited all four sites over the past several months and interacted with local people who are predominantly adivasis. We are shocked at the brazen manner in which these projects have been granted in open contempt of the law and various Constitutional provisions applicable in the Fifth Schedule region, said Mr. Krishna.

There are gross violations under the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), said Y. Rajesh, HRF AP State general secretary.

As per the provisions, any decision on a project in the Fifth Schedule areas without discussion and prior consent of the local Grama Sabhas or Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) amounts to an illegality, the HRF team pointed out.

In respect of these PSPs, no information has been conveyed, no discussion has taken place, there has been no transparency and adivasis in these areas have been deliberately kept in the dark, alleged Mr. Krishna.

Leasing out of land in the scheduled areas is governed by the AP Land Transfer Regulation (LTR). The Supreme Court has clearly laid out in the Samata Judgement of 1997 that private entities cannot undertake projects in the Scheduled areas. The present proposals are in violation of this seminal judgment, the HRF functionaries said.

As per Mr. Krishna, each of these PSPs envisages an upper and lower reservoir which in turn requires a fairly large amount of land. For instance, the total area required for both reservoirs in the Yerravaram project (to generate 1200 MW) is 820 acres and for the Pedakota PSP (1000 MW), it is over 680 acres. This would entail physical displacement of adivasis in the Scheduled areas. According to estimates by the local adivasis, not less than 34 habitations located in Gondhipakalu and Errabommala panchayats in Chintapalli mandal and P. Makavaram panchayat of Koyyuru mandal will be submerged by the Yerravaram project.

What is also alarming is that these projects involve drawing water from local sources that are used by adivasis for their sustenance and for domestic needs and agriculture, Mr. Krishna said.