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NGT: Notice to Centre on Relaxed Norms for Coal-based Thermal Power Plants

Thermal Power Rajasthan, Photo: Bhuvantoo/Wikipedia

 

Ignoring the concerns raised by environmentalists on the new emission standards for thermal power plants, the draft notification of which was first published on 15th May, 2015 for public comments, was finally notified by MOEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change) on 7th December, 2015. Vindhya Bachao sent a comprehensive review of the representation to MOEFCC on 1st June, 2015, against which no response from the Ministry was received. In an RTI application filed by a member of Vindhya Bachao, it was noticed that the Ministry has received many representations from environmentalists and power companies as well. But, unfortunately only the concerns raised by power companies were given the utmost priority which resulted into formulation of highly inadequate and ineffective emission standards.

A petition was filed by Vindhya Bachao member Debadityo Sinha and reputed river activist Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala in May this year. The respondents are 1-Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, 2- Central Pollution Control Board, 3- Ministry of Power, and 4- Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The matter was filed by Advocate Parul Gupta.

The major concern in the petition is to highlight the lack of comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments, relaxed standards of emission, lack of stringent measures to reduce pollution and regulatory framework to control abstraction of water for generation of power which has led to severe loss to environment, ecology and public health. Acknowledging the fact that the thermal power will remain the major source of energy in coming decades, the petitioners have demanded for enforcement of strictest measures which are adequate enough to control the environmental pollution from the thermal power plants some of which includes preparation of comprehensive EIA, installation of FGD (Flu Gas Desulphurisation) and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reductions); Framing of minimum distance of thermal power plants from dams, reservoirs, wetlands, agricultural lands, forests and rivers; closure of older units and validating operation of thermal power plants only for a specific time period after completion of which post-facto EIA to be to be made mandatory; permission for operating only ultra-supercritical technology for new thermal power projects; closure of units which fail to comply with fly ash utilization guidelines etc. The petitioners have also sought for constitution of an expert committee to conduct cumulative impact assessment and carrying capacity of all river basins and regulation of water abstraction for thermal power generation.

NGT taking note of the issues raised by the applicants issued notice on 9th May, 2016

The petition and annexures are as follows:

 

 

Main Application/Petition

 

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Annexure A-1

Notification No. S.O. 3305 (E) passed by the MOEFCC on 7th December, 2015

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Annexure A-2

Fact sheet of the Central Electricity Authority-Govt. of India dated 31.03.2016

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Annexure A-3

India Energy Security Scenario 2047, NITI AYOG, Govt. of India, August 2015

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Annexure A-4

User Guide for India’s 2047 Energy Calculator, Coal and Gas Power Stations, GoI

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Annexure A-5

Research paper titled as 'Atmospheric emissions and pollution from the coal-fired thermal power plants in India' published by Desert Research Centre and IIT Delhi in journal 'Atmospheric Environment' in 2014

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Annexure A-6

Discussion paper titled the “Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India by Cropper et.al. 2012”

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Annexure A-7

Publications by University of Illinios, Chicago titled ‘Scientific Evidence of Health Effects from Coal Use in Energy Generation’ dated April, 2013

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Annexure A-8

‘Diagnostic Assessment of Select Environmental Challenges in India’ published by World Bank in June, 2013

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Annexure A-9

Research publication by PNAS in November, 2014 titled ‘Recent climate and air pollution impacts on Indian agriculture’

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Annexure A-10

Research Paper published in Geophys. Res. Lett., 41 'Reductions in India’s crop yield due to ozone' by Ghude et.al., in August, 2014

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Annexure A-11

CSE-DTE report titled ‘Coal Toll-Among the Least Efficient’ published in February, 2015

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Annexure A-12

CSE study titled ‘Mercury Pollution in Sonbhadra District of Uttar Pradesh and its Health Impacts’ published in October 2012

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Annexure A-13

Publication tilted as “Natural radionuclides from coal fired thermal power plants –estimation of atmospheric release and inhalation risk”, published by Environmental Assessment Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 2011

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Annexure A-14

CEA Report on Minimization of Water Requirement in Coal Based Thermal Power Station, January 2012

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Annexure A-15

Report titled Increased global water stress: Vital Water Graphics, UNEP (2008)

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Annexure A-16

Report titled ‘The Future of Global Water Stress: An Integrated Assessment’ dated January, 2014 publised by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA in January,2014

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Annexure A-17

Twelfth Five Year Plan – 2012-2017 Report of the Working Group on 'Rural Domestic Water and Sanitation by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation' published in September, 2011

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Annexure A-18

Report ‘Water in India: Situation and Prospects’ published by UNICEF, FAO and SaciWATERs, 2013

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Annexure A-19

Press Release dated 21st May, 2012 by Ministry of Power

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Annexure A-20

Research paper titled “Mercury emissions control from coal fired thermal power plants in India: Critical review & suggested Policy measures, Mahanadi Coalfields, November, 2013

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Annexure A-21

Representation sent by the Applicant No. 1 to MOEFCC dated 01.06.2015

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Tags: Coal & Thermal Power, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Rivers, National Green Tribunal, Press Release

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