CHENNAI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday quashed the clearance given to the 3,600 MW coal-fired power plant coming up in Cuddalore district, directing the private company to get the clearance from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) after carrying out a fresh Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) Study. The order was pronounced by the Principal Bench in New Delhi, chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar, following petitions by three persons from villages in the district where the plant is coming up.
In a stinging rebuke of the haphazard manner in which the matter was handled by the EAC, the tribunal criticised the “casual approach” and said it “failed to apply its mind” on the material placed before it.
The proposed 3,600 MW (2x600 MW, 3x800 MW) thermal plant proposed by infrastructure firm, IL&FS, at Kottatai, Ariyagoshti, Villianallur and Silambimangalam villages in Chidambaram Taluk, Cuddalore, was embroiled in trouble from the very beginning after villagers backed by activists questioned the Environmental Clearance to it.
According to opponents, the plant was coming up at an environmentally sensitive place that is already facing stress from a SIPCOT industrial complex and a proposed petrochemical SEZ. The EIA studies, said activists, should factor in the cumulative effect of all the polluting industries, and not be done as a standalone study.
After several petitions, the matter reached the NGT where it suspended the EC on May 23, 2012, and directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to review the EC based on a Cumulative Impact Assessment Study and stipulate any additional environmental conditions if required.