What is given below is a primary note prepared by the leadership of the Bhangar movement to help the development of the movement at all India level against the hazards created by the numerous high power Grid Lines along with substations across the country, which are still imposed increasingly day by day against the affected people’s interests. The present situation when the ecological destruction caused by the nuclear, thermal power stations, use of fossil sources of energy, coal mines etc intensifies ecological destruction, it calls for a paradigm shift in the approach towards electricity production, transmission and consumption. When the sources of petroleum are expected to become scarce within few decades, and climate change like phenomena are becoming increasingly serious, a basic shift towards the use of solar, wind like renewable energy sources calls for immediate attention, not by importing the technology developed in these fields by the MNCs, but through indigenous development of decentralized production methods. Such a decentralized energy production shall make the present networks of extensive power grid lines themselves obsolete. In short, along with a people oriented new perspective towards development, the whole gamut of energy production, transmission and consumption demands a basic shift from today’s capitalist mode which promote consumerist greed and over consumption.
A two-fold movement is called for: firstly, developing a countrywide movement against polluting present energy production methods and against the transmission using high voltage power grid lines which intensifies ecological destruction; secondly, developing solar, wind like energy sources based on indigenous, decentralized methods of production which shall dispense with the need of power grid lines. As an important part of such a holistic approach with paradigm shift, developing an all India movement against the power grid lines based on the experience of the Bhangar movement has great significance. All state committees are called upon to make an in-depth study of this question. As a part of this initiative, try to develop anti-power grid movements wherever possible, so that soon we can coordinate them in to an all India movement. The preliminary note prepared by the leadership of the Bhangar movement is sent to help this process
– KN Ramachandran
- Electricity is a pivotal material for the development of civilization. In our age electricity is synonymous of civilization. But in this capitalist and pre capitalist system nothing is produced without its profit making aspect. Now electricity is necessary as we are using water, air etc. But capitalism, particularly monopoly capitalism, is using this need of the people for their own profit. So, instead of its usefulness, sometimes it is becoming a curse for the people. We already know about the effect of nuclear energy system and even about the effects of thermal power on environment. But still In India, there is no such awareness about the hazards of high voltage transmission line. Though in European Countries and America there are so many standards, precautions, compensation, social security, and safety measures are followed while constructing power grid lines, realized through the vigorous protest of the people of those countries, in our country this is not the fact.
- Though Indian Government is very much concerned to “meet” the increasing demand of electricity to every corner of the country, they have no concern about the safety and security of the people and peasantry, suffering due to the transmission line and reckless installment of substations here and there. Even Government is not updating the laws regarding the electricity production and transmission. They are still working based on the ancient Telegraph act, 1828, and only some cosmetic changes are made in 2003 and 2004 due to vigorous protest of the peasantry and local people of every corner of the country. After Singur and Nandigram Movements, when the Land Acquisition Act 1894 has been amended in 2014, an interstate secretariat power committee has made some guidelines to resolve the issues like the question of land acquisition, installment of towers and stringing over the fields of the peasants. In that guideline it was stipulated that “Compensation @ 85% of land value as determined by District Magistrate or any other authority based on Circle rate/ Guideline value/ Stamp Act rates for tower base area (between four legs) impacted severely due to installation of tower/pylon structure : Compensation towards diminution of land value in the width of Right of Way (RoW) Corridor due to laying of transmission line and imposing certain restrictions would be decided by the States as per categorization/type of land in different places in the States, subject to a maximum of 15% of land value as determined based on Circle ratel Guideline valuel Stamp Act rates.
- But this guideline is hardly implemented. And still this guideline is not converted into an Act. So there is no use to go to the court on the basis of this guideline. And still there is no provision of environment impact assessment particularly for this industry. But internationally it is compulsory.
- Actually Internationally three types of loss have been considered by the authorities such as EU, WB, IFC etc. due to high voltage transmission project.
- Land loss for tower base and Right of Way;
- Environmental loss; and
- Loss for the Community people who are living near the high voltage transmission line
- But in our country none of these guidelines are abided by the PGCIL, as well as by the Central and state Governments. So, when the Central Government has now given the call ‘one nation, one grid’ it is dangerous for the people and peasantry, because numerous high tension lines will be going over head all across the country. Government is doing all these without any empirical study on the important question of impact of Electromagnetic field on the health of the people, land use and the impact on the environment.
- Though PGCIL is saying that they have taken a scheme named ‘Environmental and Social Policy and Procedure’ (ESPP), they do not even bother to talk with the local people about their proposed project. And, still the state and Indian Governments are not recognizing the effects of the ‘Electro Magnetic Flux’ (EMF) and ‘Extremely Low Frequency’ (ELF) radiation as important problems. So, actually no limits about the ELF radiation and the limit of EMF radiation are put in actual practice. It is so high compared to the limit stipulated by international standard. And, without any local area study, they are installing substations and installing numerous lines even in densely populated localities.
- In short, we can say that pollution due to high voltage transmission line and installation of sub-stations recklessly here and there are big issues in India now. We can take the above mentioned three points of hazards as has been stated by the WB etc itself. Even PGCIL said in writing about the hazards to SEBI that: The construction and operation of our transmission and substation projects may have significant consequences on grazing, logging, agricultural activities, mining and land development as well as on the ecosystem of the affected areas. The environmental impact of a particular transmission project typically depends on the location of the project and the surrounding ecosystem.
- So a vigorous struggle on the question of the below mentioned three issues is to be waged:—
- Land loss for tower base and Right of Way,
- Environmental loss, and
- Loss of the Community people who are living near the high voltage transmission line .
- We have to demand the enactment of a law under which Environmental Impact Assessment will be made compulsory; proper Compensation to the peasant is compulsory; and all risk factors must be identified and safety measures taken to resolve them. It cannot be made possible if the struggle is limited to a single, or one local project. A country wide struggle is necessary. Bhangar is an example for a successful movement focusing these questions; but only one Bhangar is not sufficient to compel the central and state governments to make an updated Act. In spite of all its limitation, Bhangar is an inspiration and instance about the way of waging the struggle. Through a protracted vigorous struggle it compelled the government and the PGCIL to make an agreement with the representatives of the Bhangar Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment under which the peasants achieved the compensation for the loss of land, and the local people also getting compensation for the losses suffered by them. And, the people have achieved several development projects as explained in this Agreement. (See the agreement).
- Based on this Agreement, wherever movements against power grids are launched, according to the particular situation of the area, implementation of the same guidelines adopted in the Agreement can be demanded from the power ministry, under which 85% of the land value for installation of towers and 15 % of the land value for stringing have to be given. Everywhere we can raise this issue. And, in general we have to demand maintenance of international standards for the installation of high voltage substations and power grid lines. n