This exclusive report documents the violations caused by the NTPC’s power plants on various fronts over the past decade — forceful land acquisition, environmental damage caused to communities, toxic pollution due to large-scale coal-fired power plants, while compromising on labour safety.
The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is one of the largest among five power utilities in the world and the largest power producer in India. This government-owned company is one of the four ‘Navratnas’ of India and also a ‘Fortune 500’ company. With more than 50 power projects and a combined capacity of more than 53,000 MW, the NTPC as a huge footprint spread across India. Along with thermal power, the NTPC has forayed into gas, hydro and renewable energy sources and has even ventured into coal mining.
While the NTPC has contributed significantly to India’s power production capacity, with nearly a quarter of India’s electricity coming from its plants, the impact of NTPC’s operations on people and environment is not widely discussed. The NTPC projects itself as a good ‘corporate citizen’ and its CSR activities has garnered hugely favourable publicity. Between 2011-12 and 2016-17, according to the NTPC’s website, it had spent over Rs 1,200 crore on its CSR activities. However, its track record on multiple fronts, whether on land acquisition, rehabilitation, environmental degradation, pollution, labour safety, etc. rarely comes into limelight.
This report is an effort to document the violations caused by the NTPC’s power plants on various fronts over the past decade, whether it is forceful land acquisition, environmental damage caused to communities, toxic pollution due to large-scale coal-fired power plants or compromising on labour safety. Usually, the isolated incidents specific to any particular power plant of the NPC have kept coming out in the media in the past, but piecing these incidents together helps the reader in understanding the NTPC in a different framework with its problematic track record. This report also highlights five case studies covering the Unchahar tragedy in Uttar Pradesh, Barkagaon police firing in Jharkhand and the NTPC’s involvement in two power plants in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where it has faced massive protests on account of forceful land acquisition and threat to environment and livelihoods. There is also a detailed case study on its failed attempt in setting up a coal-fired power plant in Sri Lanka.
This report attempts to raise questions on the accountability of the NTPC, a government-owned company, towards its people and the environment. When the NTPC and the government talk about the contribution of NTPC towards meeting the power requirements of the country, then, at the same time, questions should also be raised about human displacement, health hazards due to pollution, destruction of forests, exploitation of natural resources, and even, at times, putting lives of the labourers in danger. Hopefully, this report would help people to understand better about the NTPC as a company.