Revival of coal plant in Sawang Calero sought
Proponents of the 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Barangay Sawang Calero in Cebu City have revived their plans to build the project in the densely populated barangay.
But unlike their first attempt with the previous City Council, Ludo Power Corp. wants to make sure that there are no more problems in the proposal.
This was why their first move was to request the Cebu City Council for the land use reclassification of the proposed area where the power plant will be built in the barangay from a low intensity industrial (I-1) district into a medium or high intensity industrial (I-2) district.
During its regular session yesterday afternoon, the City Council approved a resolution proposed by Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak to refer Ludo’s request for reclassification to the Cebu City Zoning Board (CCZB) and the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) for review.
“This is a vital project for the City of Cebu especially in regards to power. Right now, our electricity is sourced from Luzon and Leyte. If this project will push through, we will have our own power source and will also benefit neighboring provinces,” said Tumulak, who expressed support for the project.
He said he has been going around the barangays in the city, and based on his talks with the people, they are also supportive of the project after being told of the benefits of the project and its mitigated environmental impacts.
Tumulak said he was assured by proponents from Ludo that they will be using green technology in their coal-fired power plant, including the use of refined coal from Indonesia that would not have to be grounded at the site of the coal plant.
Last April, the previous City Council rejected the first attempt of Ludo to establish their power plant project in the city. The council pointed out that under City Ordinance No. 1656 or the city’s 1996 Revised Zoning Ordinance, power plants are allowed only in I-2 districts. The proposed plant site, on the other hand, belongs to an I-1 district, thus the petition to reclassify the area.
Hundreds of residents from Barangay Sawang Calero and nearby barangays like Suba and Pasil trooped to City Hall yesterday during the council session to express their support for the project.
The residents were wearing white shirts and bringing placards that read “yes to coal plant,” “yes to development,” and “Uyon mi ipadayun ang plant para sa kalambuan (We support the plant in the name of progress).”
Sandra Arnado, 45, of Barangay Suba, was among those who rallied at City Hall yesterday.
“Gipasabot sa amoa sa taga-Ludo nga kung naa ning power plant, makapaubos ni sa bayranan sa kuryente. Kung naa puy kaayuhan sa Ludo, maka-avail pud ang barangay. Ingon sila nga ang makadaot kay ang aso, pero ila mi gipakita nga limpyo man,” she told Cebu Daily News.
(Officials from Ludo made us understand that the coal plant will help lower the cost of electricity. If there are also benefits from Ludo, the people from the barangay can also avail of it. They said the smoke will cause problems, but they showed us that it is clean.)
But during the council’s approval of the resolution to refer the request to the CCZB and the CPDO, Councilors Jose Daluz III, Raymond Alvin Garcia and James Anthony Cuenco abstained from voting.
Daluz said he would have wanted that the project to be endorsed immediately by the City Council, which was why he abstained.
He explained that the coal-fired power plant project costs US$500 million or around P20 billion.
“This will be in Sawang Calero. After this project, Sawang Calero will be the richest barangay in the city,” he said.
Daluz added that the project is expected to generate employment for 1,000 people, 20 percent of which or 200 will have to come from the barangay itself.
It was pointed out, though, that after the referral to the CCZB and the CPDO, the proposal will still go to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the conduct of a public hearing with concerned stakeholders.
Sought for comment, former Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon expressed his disappointment on the project’s revival.
“The proposed coal power plant project is unconscionable. We will continue to oppose this, whatever it takes. Together with our allies from the urban poor sector, NGOs, academe and church-based groups, we will actively lobby with out incumbent LGU officials not to approve this project,” said Dizon who is now a local convenor of the Sugboanong Nagpakabana sa Kalikupan (SNK).
Dizon was a member of the previous City Council which opposed the project citing environmental and health hazards. He was also a member of the then City Council’s committee on environment, which rejected the project.
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