CHENNAI: The new ash pipeline being built for North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) stage-3 in Ennore over Kosasthalaiyar river does not have mandatory statutory clearances, said the joint committee report submitted before the southern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT).
An Ennore fisherman R Ravimaran had filed a petition with NGT, alleging that TANGEDCO’s old leaking ash pipelines and the new construction has polluted the river beyond use, hampering livelihood of hundreds of fishermen. TNIE had published a ground report, highlighting the violation in July.
The joint committee report, a copy of which is available with TNIE, confirmed the new pipeline violates Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules. “Environmental clearance was granted for NCTPS stage-3 plant and CRZ clearance for foreshore facilities, including coal conveyor, supporting trestles, seawater intake and outlet pipes etc., but not for laying pipelines for transmitting slurry across Kosasthalaiyar backwaters. This is gross violation of CRZ rules,” the report said.
On environmental damage, the committee said pipeline work was yet to commence over Kosasthalaiyar river. “Hence, environmental damage due to crossing of pipes has not been assessed for working out the compensation.”
When TNIE visited the site in July, large piles of construction debris were found dumped on the banks of the waterbody for sinking pillars for the pipeline bridge. Rajesh Lakhoni, chairman cum managing director, TANGEDCO had claimed no construction works were carried out without proper permissions. The chief engineer of ash pipeline argued that though the NCTPS stage-3 CRZ clearance does not make a direct reference to construction of ash pipeline, it did say, “ash pond water will be collected, treated and reused for slurry making.”
“Since it is only for contingency purposes, the clearance did not talk about the pipeline project in detail. Compared to the existing pipeline, this will be small and only 216m of Kosasthalaiyar river and 40m of Buckingham Canal passes through the CRZ area in the total 6-km pipeline,” the official said. The committee also made critical observations on existing pipelines. “Due to leakage of ash slurry from the ageing pipes and also direct letting out of slurry into waterbodies, Kosasthalaiyar backwaters and Buckingham Canal have become a cesspool of ash.”
While granting clearance, the Union Environment Ministry had said, in case of any deviation or alteration, TANGEDCO officials should file a fresh application.