Former power & finance secretary EAS Sarma cites a series of legal violations and possible environmental damage involved in the Andhra Pradesh project, writes to Union minister Jayanthi Natarajan to reconsider Centre’s go-ahead for the thermal power plant
The East Coast Energy Private Ltd (ECEPL) plant at Kakarapalli village in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, which recently got the nod from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), has garnered much infamy for several legal violations.
Now, former power and finance secretary EAS Sarma has also written to the Union minister to scrap the project altogether.
Mr Sarma has written to the Union environment & forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan, “I understand that MoEF had recently issued a letter to the private company that they could go ahead with the construction of the project subject to certain conditions. Subsequently, it appears that the Ministry had second thoughts on this and kept that communication in abeyance. Considering the public opposition to the project, I am afraid that any precipitate action on the part of your Ministry would only have serious adverse implications.”
Construction of the first phase will generate a capacity of 1,320MW (megawatts) of the 2,640MW thermal power project and the company will spend some Rs7,000 crore on the first phase. Local residents had protested against the construction, and the ensuing violence left two dead in police firing. Despite a Supreme Court judgement that all public utility lands be returned to the respective gram panchayats after removing existing constructions, ECEPL went ahead with the construction and obtained the clearance afterwards. Moreover, the company has allegedly not surrendered 500 acres of land as promised in lieu of the environmental clearance.
“(The) Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) ought not to have accorded environment clearance for ECEPL’s project at Kakarapalli as the site is situated in a unique wetland system that provides sustenance to thousands of traditional fishermen, small salt farmers and others. The wetland at Kakarapalli is also the nesting ground for more than 120 species of migratory birds. Setting up a project in such a wetland invariably causes flooding of thousands of acres of the adjacent agricultural lands,” he said.
India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, which aims at protection of wetlands. In a letter to former Union environment & forests minister Jairam Ramesh, Mr Sarma had pointed out that according to the revenue department of the Andhra Pradesh government, the land allotted for the ECEPL thermal power plant is part of a wetland system and the fact has been corroborated by the state forest & fisheries department and the National Wild Life Board. It now remains to be seen if the Centre acts on Mr Sarma’s recommendation.
Canara Bank has announced a retail loan festival till 15th January
Canara Bank has announced a retail loan festival till 15 January 2011 during which interest rates on housing and home improvement loans will be reduced by 50 basis points across all slabs and tenures.
The bank has also completely waived processing charges during this festival period, it said in a statement. It has also waived the 25 basis points additional interest being levied on borrowers acquiring a second residential unit.
In respect of vehicle loans availed during the period, borrowers need to pay reduced rate of interest by 100 basis points, besides being eligible for complete waiver of processing charges, the bank said in a statement.
HDFC Bank to offer Diners Club international credit cards and merchant acquiring services in India
HDFC Bank and Diners Club International Ltd have announced a strategic alliance, whereby HDFC Bank will issue Diners Club International credit cards in India. The Bank will also provide merchant acquiring services, thereby creating more acceptance opportunities for the Diners Club brand in India.
With this strategic alliance, the Diners Club brand will join hands with the bank to reach out and serve the payment needs of India’s rapidly growing affluent class. This will help HDFC Bank, which is already India’s largest credit card issuer, to further extend its foray into the super premium segment to address the rich clientele.
Pralay Mondal, country head, retail assets and credit cards, HDFC Bank, said: “HDFC Bank enjoys the highest mind and wallet share in credit cards in India. To add to that, HDFC Bank and Diners Club will now form a powerful combination that has the potential to redefine the lifestyle experience of the Indian elite with its global reach, exclusive privileges and customised personal services.”
“Our strategic partnership with HDFC Bank demonstrates our continued commitment to expanding our brand in India, which is recognised as one of the world’s key emerging markets,” said Rajive Chadha, president of Diners Club International, a subsidiary of Discover. “We know that HDFC Bank and its customers will benefit from the international network provided by Diners Club International, as well as access to millions of merchant locations and more than 800,000 cash access locations and ATMs.”