CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (TANGEDCO) has got a reprieve from Union Environment Ministry to finish construction of two slow-moving thermal power plants at Ennore with a combined capacity of 1,980 MW.
The 660 MW supercritical Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) expansion project, which had suffered multiple delays, has been allowed to use the baseline data of another unit of similar capacity collected during July-September, 2018, for preparing environment impact assessment studies, which would help TANGEDCO get Environmental Clearance (EC) faster. Besides, collecting 104 pollution readings a year was also exempted.
However, the State power corporation’s request to exempt it from conducting public hearing and permission to allow construction even after expiry of EC (June 2, 2019) as an interim arrangement till a fresh EC is obtained has been categorically rejected.
The clearance for ETPS was given in 2009. The ministry said it cannot given extension for a thermal power plant project beyond 10 years and asked it to obtain EC afresh. TANGEDCO officials said, “Project construction is in progress. Seventeen per cent of physical progress was made by the contractor and 18 per cent payment (`703 cr) was made.”
Environmentalist Pooja Kumar of city-based NGO Coastal Resource Centre has raised objections to the exemption granted saying that the baseline data of a plant currently delisted by the ministry cannot be used for the Ennore replacement project. The ministry itself had asked for additional studies for the replacement project, she said.
“The accuracy of baseline data was questioned and now the ministry is allowing TANGEDCO to use the same data to obtain EC.” The Ennore project will replace the existing Ennore Power Station of 450 MW, which was de-commissioned on March 31, 2017.
Meanwhile, the ministry has granted a two-year extension for 2x660 MW Ennore SEZ supercritical thermal power plant at Vayalur in Tiruvallur district. The EC for two units was granted in 2014 for a period of five years. The project was held up for more than two years due to pending court cases in Madras High Court.