CHENNAI: The NTPC Tamilnadu Energy Company Limited (NTECL) on Thursday said that there was no illegality in the construction of ash pond at the Vallur thermal power station.
In response to an Express article on illegal construction of a new ash pond under phase-2 in the ecologically sensitive Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ)-1 (No Development Zone) area, the NTECL said it was not a new ash pond being constructed, but a completion of balance works of phase-1 ash dyke, which comprises two lagoons, Lagoon-1 and Lagoon-2, which are spread over 525 acres.
The Union Environment Ministry monitoring reports clearly says the NTECL at Vallur has given up 140 acres of land demarcated for phase-2 ash disposal and using phase-1 ash pond without prior intimation and approval of ministry. The existing phase-1 ash pond is not lined with impervious lining. The NTECL said proposed ash pond for phase-2 was to be constructed in an area of 111 acres on the eastern side of the plant, but was jettisoned due to certain technical reasons. “As such, there is no construction of ash dyke for the phase-2, the question of any EC violation or conditions does not arise,” NTECL said.
With regard to mangrove vegetation, the NTECL said Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) in March, 2016 observed that there were two patches of mangrove in the proposed site for Lagoon-1 and directed the company not to undertake any construction activity in the ash dyke Lagoon-1 without obtaining prior permission from the TNPCB, following which balance works were kept in abeyance.
Later, an assessment of the impact on mangroves and its mitigation measures due to the presence of ash dyke lagoon was undertaken through the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur and report submitted to the TNPCB on March 13, 2017. Subsequently a committee formed by TNPCB comprising TNPCB officials, an expert from the IIT-Madras and officials from the Forest department carried out a field inspection of the ash dyke and its surroundings in May, 2017. Based on the committee’s recommendations and NTECL’s request, the TNPCB communicated their “no objection” for the construction of ash dyke of Lagoon-1.
The NTECL also claimed ash dyke lagoon-1 boundaries were out of the CRZ area. It got the GPS survey done through the Institute of Remote Sensing (IRS), Anna University, Chennai (competent agency authorised by the MoEF). It is surprising to note that the NTECL claims to have not received the 30-page report of the Regional Office of MoEF, Chennai dated July 9, 2018, which Express quoted.
It is surprising to note that the NTECL claims to have not received the 30-page report of the Regional Office of MoEF, Chennai dated July 9, 2018, which Express quoted in its article