Fluoride Action Network

11k acres land leased for solar power park has contaminated water: Repor

Source: The Times of India | January 10th, 2016 | By Sandeep Moudgal
Location: India
Industry type: Photovoltaics

BENGALURU: Having burnt its fingers in land acquisition for mega power projects time and again, the government has decided to change its land policy for one of the biggest power generation endeavours in Karnataka.

The Karnataka Solar Power Development Corporation Limited, a joint venture between Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd and central agency Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), has decided to enter into lease agreements with farmers and land owners who own 11,000 acres of land in Pavagada taluk of Tumakuru. The land identified for the park is located in the villages of Kythaganacharlu, Valluru, Balasamudra, Tirumani and Rayacharlu of Nagalamadike hobli, Pavagada taluk.

However, the land appears to be contaminated, with groundwater having excessive traces of flouride [sic, fluoride]. As per the ground analysis report made available online by KSPDCL, the groundwater contains flouride [sic, fluoride] more than the permissible limits. But KSPDCL CEO D Basavaraju said the agency will set up reverse osmosis units across the solar park for potable water, with the groundwater being utilized only for washing solar panels.

The 2000 MW solar power park, a big-ticket project for Karnataka, was recently cleared by the State High Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC) headed by chief minister Siddaramaiah. While Karnataka has been entrusted with the purpose of setting up the power park, the SECI and National Thermal Power Corporation will finalize the list of solar power developers.

G V Balaram, MD of KREDL, said the agencies could not “afford” acquisition of 11,000 acres. “As a result, we decided to lease out the entire land. With our interest being only in developing the park, identification and finalization of power developers will be that of NTPC and SECI,” he said.

Currently, the government has fixed annual lease rates at Rs 23,100 per acre with a bi-annual hike of 5 per cent. The land lease period has been fixed for 25-30 years. Once leased out to KSPDCL from farmers and land owners, the same land will be sub-leased to solar power developers at the rate of five acres for every mega watt of power which they intend to generate. The rates for the sub-lease will be dependent upon the total land which a particular solar power developer intends to utilise for power generation.

While the annual lease rent for the first financial year shall be payable on pro rata basis on or before signing of agreement, for subsequent period, the lease rent shall be payable on or before 30th April at the beginning of each financial year. The total cost of development for the entire 2000 MW solar park is estimated to be Rs 14,800 crore, including the lease of land.

The project, scheduled to be ready by September 2016, is likely to generate employment for 8,000 people with first preference to a person from every land losing family.