Andhra – NAPM Strongly Condemns the Killing of Three People in Police Firing and Demands Cancellation of Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project

February 28, 2011

Gram Sabha’s Consent Must for Planning any Infrastructure Project

New Delhi, February 28 : The inevitable has happened, police opened fire on the peacefully protesting villagers in Vadditandra village and killed three villagers and critically injured atleast 25 people today afternoon in Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh. Contrary to the media reports the villages around the kakrapalli area have been threatened and terrorised for past one week. The situation has been tense due to heavy presence of the police, who had stopped the entry of people from outside, even local media was not allowed and didn’t allow the weekly bazaar to be held and forcing other shops to remain shut. On 25th February after the police action when members of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Sompeta – NAPM tried to visit the villages with medicines and food they were not allowed to enter and threatened. Srikakulam police used the same tactics of terrorising and threatening as they did last year in Sompeta in mid July.

Today police fired tear gas shells causing fire to nearly 100 huts of fisherfolks in the Vadditandra village inciting people’s anger. Police provoked the villagers and then opened fire with live munitions killing and injuring in the process. It is also alleged that police set fire to their own vehicles in order to justify their action and implicate villagers in burning of the vehicles.

It is extremely unfortunate that inspite of NAPM’s complain to the Chairperson of AP State Human Rights Commission and Director General of Police, the situation was allowed to reach this stage. Even attempts at dialogue failed and the district administration seemed to be hell bent on terrorising and breaking the resistance against the Thermal Power Plant. Earlier Swami Agnivesh also spoke to the Chief Minister after the firing on 25th February but nothing seems to have worked.

The opposition to the thermal power plants in the area is an indication of the people’s resistance to the ‘development’ (destruction) being thrust upon them from above. Two incidents of firing and sacrifice of life by people for protecting their land, water and their livelihood should be an indication enough for the government that people don’t want this destruction. They would rather prefer to live in darkness than pay for electricity by their blood and livelihood. Unless and until Gram Sabha is involved in the planning of any infrastructure project scenes like this will continue to be repeated and the conflict will keep growing.

We demand from Andhra Pradesh Government :

* immediate suspension and stern action against the police officials involved in the incident
* immediate withdrawal of the police force from the area so that the injured could be treated and access to the villages be restored.
* Compensation and relief to those dead and injured
* Withdrawal of false charges and cases against villagers involved in the resistance
* And, finally cancellation of the Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Plant

Chief Minister, Shri Kiran Kumar must answer to the people of Andhra Pradesh and the whole country on what his forces are doing. What kind of development does he envisage for Andhra ? He can’t continue to be the Chief Minister, while people are being maimed by State’s forces while protecting their life and livelihood.

NAPM calls for all to join in a day long dharna on March 1st from 10:30 am onwards @ Dharna Chowk, Indira Park, Hyderabad.

Medha Patkar, Thomas Kocherry, Sandeep Pandey, Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Prafulla Samantara, Ulka Mahajan, Roma, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Ajay Kumar, Saraswati Kavula, Suniti S R, Faisal Khan, Vimal Bhai, Anand mazgaonkar, Pervin Jehangir, Madhuresh Kumar

For details call : Rama Krishna Raju 9866887299 / Saraswati Kavula 09849718364