CHENNAI: An expert appraisal committee (EAC) of Union environment ministry has directed State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Sipcot) to apply for fresh Terms of Reference (ToR) for building the proposed industrial park at Gummidipoodi near Chennai.
The direction was given in compliance with the order passed by the southern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), which in September suspended the environmental clearance (EC) for the project.
The committee that met on November 3-4 took up the proposal and asked Sipcot to submit the online application for grant of ToR in the ministry’s PARIVESH portal.
The NGT, in its order dated September 30, directed the ministry to issue ToR after getting recommendation from the EAC in a month from the date of judgment. The Sipcot was asked not to carry out any activity in the project area until it gets fresh clearances.
The tribunal halted the project in Tiruvallur district because of its proximity to Pulicat lake bird sanctuary. Sipcot plans to establish and develop an industrial park at Manallur and Soorapoondi villages for synthetic organic chemicals and integrated paint industries.
The project area is 5.5 km from the Pulicat lake bird sanctuary, the default ESZ of which is 10 km. But, Sipcot, while applying for EC, did not reveal this in form-1 of the application and the project’s environmental impact assessment was prepared by a non-accredited agency. Several residents moved the NGT requesting it to set aside the EC, saying there were multiple villages near the project area but this was concealed by Sipcot.
The NGT bench directed the Union environment ministry to refer the project proposal to the expert appraisal committee for issuing additional ToR so as to conduct further studies by Sipcot, including assessing the impact of the project in the area and neighbouring villages. NGT also sought National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) clearance for the project.
When contacted, a Sipcot official said NGT had not set aside the EC, but only suspended it until further studies are carried out and NBWL clearance is obtained. “We have already applied for NBWL clearance.”