Group blames wind farm for drought
Farmers in drought-stricken western India recently attacked a turbine field in the region because they believed the windmills were dispersing monsoon clouds.
Agitated farmers said they were convinced the magnetic pressure of the windmills' massive blades drew in the clouds only to 'slash through' and 'fragment them' before driving them away.
The farmers, led by Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu party known for its militancy, attempted to sabotage the state-owned wind farm in Maharashtra where 1,700 windmills operate.
Now a committee, which includes a top scientist, an energy expert and a meteorologist, has been set up by the state power company to investigate the farming group's concerns.
G.B. Pant, director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology who is heading the investigation, said yesterday it would take at least two months for the committee to conclude its investigation.
Using photographs, video films and a scientific report prepared by a chemistry teacher, the farmers recently presented evidence to the committee alleging the windmills were dispersing the monsoon clouds.
Vasant Gowariker, a renowned Indian weather forecaster, dismissed the claims of the farmers as having 'no scientific basis'.
'Never have we heard of reports of windmills influencing the rainfall in America and Europe where they had been running for decades. Rather, our studies have found [in Maharashtra] that the deficit rainfall activity is a part of natural rainfall variability,' said the weather expert.
J.N. Malaviya of the Indian Wind Energy Association said: 'Cloud formation happens at a height of 6,000 feet [1,828 metres] - twice the height above sea level of the windmills.'
Some observers believed the protest against the wind farm was fuelled by corruption and political rivalry.
'Power corporations gifted several 'complimentary' windmills to leaders from Congress, the ruling party in the state. Now the frustrated Shiv Sena leaders have launched attacks against the windmills,' said Haima Deshpande, a political analyst.