11th November 2014
By Express News Service
CHENNAI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has quashed the clearance given to the coal-fired power plant coming up in Cuddalore district, directing the private company to get clearance from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) after carrying out a fresh Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) Study.
Following a series of petitions, the matter reached the NGT where it suspended the Environmental Clearance (EC) on May 23, 2012. In its order, the tribunal directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to review the EC granted to the project based on a CIA study and stipulate any additional environmental conditions if required.
Based on the directive, the MoEF issued a corrigendum on August 14, 2012.
Challenging this, the villagers filed a petition with the NGT, charging that the crucial CIA studies were carried out in just two weeks. This despite the CIA including the impact of all industries on the local environment in the 25 km radius of the plant. The company, claimed the petitioners, borrowed details from past studies, including that done by a company in the neighbourhood about 15 years ago.
According to the tribunal, the additional conditions imposed by the EAC “indicate a casual approach as these conditions are extremely general in nature and do not prescribe extent or level of work required to be carried out”. In the absence of specifics, it added, such conditions shall remain on paper without being effectively monitored.
The green panel pulled up the EAC and the MoEF for being “unmindful” of the National Ambient Air Quality Survey 2009 standards, as the report submitted by the company cited the non-existent NAAQS 2005 standards. “We are, therefore, of the considered opinion that the EAC failed to apply its mind to the material placed before it by the rival parties and proceeded to recommend the conditions purportedly for safeguarding the environment,” the tribunal noted in its order on Monday that quashed the corrigendum.
The private company, IL&FS, has been asked to carry out fresh CIA study of the project, which would include collecting baseline/primary data of each and every existing industry; data regarding treated effluents discharge/likely to be discharged by such industries; primary baseline data on socio-economic environment; data regarding industry in offing and which are likely to come up in next five years; carry out impact prediction/assessment using appropriate mathematical models; and suggest appropriate management plan for significant impacts including financial implications.
Based on this, the EAC should consider such a report and first assess whether comprehensive CEIA study is necessary, and then do an appraisal of the study.