BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has directed partial closure of Vedanta Limited’s power plants over breach of regulations relating to the ash pond at Katikela in Jharsuguda district of Odisha where the company’s aluminium smelter and power generation facilities are located.
The aluminium manufacturer has been directed to shut down five units of its captive as well as independent power plants (IPPs) for at least seven days.
According to the pollution board, Vedanta Alumnium will have to close down three units of the captive power plant (CPP), each having a capacity of 135 megawatts (MW). Similarly, two 600 mw units of the IPP will have to be shut down. The CPP capacity of Vedanta stands at 1,215 mw whereas the IPP capacity is 2,400 mw.
“The board has asked the company to come back with concrete plans after which we will assess how much ash these units are generating and take a call on the future course of action,” OSPCB member-secretary Devidutt Biswal said.
After an ash pond breach on August 28, the board had estimated that a massive 42,24,000 tonnes of ash slurry had flown into the Bheden river and nearby paddy fields causing huge damage to the local environment.
On September 5, OSPCB served a show cause notice on the company, asking it to explain why consent for the smelter and power generation facilities should not be withdrawn and the plants closed.
Having been served the partial closure fiat, Vedanta on Thursday communicated to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) that the remaining six units of the CPP have been permitted to operate till October 12 while the two remaining IPP units can operate till September 20.
The pollution control board has asked Vedanta for compliance of certain conditions with concrete plans within five days.
The aluminium company informed SEBI that the closure may require a temporary power purchase of up to 200 MW which will have a marginal impact on its cost of production of aluminium. “The company expects to be able to sustain the smelter capacity without affecting its production volume,” it said.
Vedanta’s Jharsuguda smelter facility capacity is 1.6 million tonnes per annum.
During its inspection, OSPCB had found that the facilities have no space for disposal of the fly ash generated after the mishap. After the breach of the ash pond, the concentration of total suspended solids (TSS) downstream of the Bheden river was a massive 2,812 mg/litre against 66 mg/litre observed upstream