25 Feb. 2012
Times of India
CHENNAI: The environment clearance given by the state government to set up an integrated solid waste management plant at Perungudi has been set aside by a National Green Tribunal bench on the ground that the site of the proposed plant was less than 10km from the Guindy National Park.
The tribunal bench, which began operations on Friday, took notice of a 2006 notification of the Union ministry of environment and forests declaring 10km area around a national park as eco-sensitive. According to the notification, permission has to be sought from the environment ministry and an environment impact assessment (EIA) has to be done before any project can begin within this zone.
During the hearing on Friday, Justice C V Ramulu of the tribunal said, “According to principal chief conservator of forests and wildlife warden, Chennai, the distance (between the site of the proposed plant and the park) is about 5.6km”.
Reading out the order, the judge accused the Environment Impact Assessment Authority, which cleared the project, of blindly believing the Corporation of Chennai. “Does pollution travel only on roads?” he asked a visibly embarrassed TNPCB official representing the authority.
The EIA was done by a private consultant, the first firm to be accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training. “The firm was looking to help the corporation set up the plant rather than give an unbiased report,” said Ritwick Dutta, the lawyer who argued the case.
“We are yet to receive a copy of the order. We will study it and then respond,” said corporation commissioner P W C Davidar when contacted. On the future of garbage management in the city, he said, “We are working on an expression of interest, which will be publicized next week. This has taken all factors into consideration.”
Following complaints about the corporation’s indifference towards the mounting garbage problem, the previous DMK regime decided on an integrated solid waste management programme. Through a global tender, Mumbai-based Hydroair Techtonics was chosen in 2009 and the programme was launched in 2010 after clearance from the State Environmental Appraisal Committee and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority. Within a few weeks, the National Environment Appellate Authority