February 4, 2015
Even as the Ranipet tragedy has broken out into a major controversy, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) are likely to be blamed at the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for yet another fatal accident at a power plant coming up in Cuddalore
Petitioners who had moved the NGT Principal Bench on the matter contend that despite specific court orders, a private player in Cuddalore (IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Limited) has been allowed to continue the construction of the plant without a valid Environment Clearance (EC). A worker from Bihar lost his life in an accident on the premises on January 18.
Alleging wilful disobedience of a court order, petitioners T. Muruganandham and others said the EC granted to the plant was first suspended in May 2012. The MoEF was directed to review the EC based on a Cumulative Impact Assessment Study (CIAS).
Subsequently, based on such a rapid CIAS, the MoEF granted approval for the plant by way of a “Corrigendum” in August 2012. This was also quashed by the NGT after it found that the CIAS was not in order. A fresh review was directed by the court.
The petitioners contend that despite the stay on the EC, the construction of the plant continued. The TNPCB, citing a memorandum from the MoEF, revoked its order suspending the ‘Consent to Establish’ given to the plant on December 6.
Therefore, the petitioners wanted the Tribunal to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents, including the MoEF.
However, IL&FS argued in its reply that there has been no “wilful disobedience” on its part. The NGT’s judgment “does not have any directions or order quashing the environmental clearance granted to the project” and “there is no direction to suspend work,” it said.