I usually find news paper advertisements boring, but a small invite to pre-bid conference for proposed 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) caught my attention. Ignoring a restraining order by the National Green Tribunal India, the project promoter Power Finance Corporation Limited, India has announced bid process for UMPP proposed in Cheyyur District of Indian State of Tamil Nadu. In past PFC has lied to the people and authorities of Cheyyur about upcoming project and now they were trying to hide facts from investors as well. Someone had to put an end to all lying. So we at 350 India, decided to confront the concerned authorities and warn the investors as well. With help from our friends at Community Environment Monitoring, a list of fraudulent statements and misrepresentations used by Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Ltd to facilitate environmental clearances for 4000 MW Cheyyur UMPP was prepared. The plan was to hand out these letters to the potential investors warning them of risks associated with this project.
It was bit difficult to blend in the suit clad crowd and pretend to be as one of interested developer. However the short film on the project site followed by a presentation boosting about state of the art technologies being adopted to protect environment, made us laugh and even more determined to expose the lies in the Environment Impact Assessment report submitted by the PFC officials. During the open discussion, one by one we started asking hard hitting questions about court orders & land acquisition. While the authorities tried to duck these questions few more investors expressed their concerns over the way the clearance was sought. Suddenly from technical discussion the focus shifted to environment and forest concerns. However the key moment was when we directly mentioned about the fraudulent claims and walked to deliver the letter to the panel. All eyes were glued to us as we were distributing the letter in middle of the meeting. We were hoping we would be asked to leave immediately, but the organizers were too shocked to react and we got stay till the end of the meeting.
As we prepared to leave the conference we were surrounded by anxious investors asking for a copy of the letter. Soon we ran out of copies of letter. We never expected our small action would be taken so seriously by investors present. No wonder we were not invited for post conference lunch for the organizers.
The small action was in solidarity with people of Cheyyur, fighting to save their land and water resouces. Visit http://cheyyur.wordpress.com/ for more information on the campaign.