CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has suspended the environmental clearance (EC) granted to an industrial park proposed by the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (Sipcot) in Tiruvallur district because of its proximity to the ecologically sensitive 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 at an estimated cost of Rs 250 crore on around 700 acres of land.
According to petitioners, the project area is 5.5km from the bird sanctuary, the default Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of which is 10km in the absence of a final notification issued. Sipcot, while applying for EC, did not reveal this fact in the Form-1 application. Moreover, the project’s environmental impact assessment was prepared by a non-accredited agency, and its impact on agricultural land was not assessed.
Several residents had also moved the NGT requesting it to set aside the EC, alleging there were many villages near the project area. This, too, was not shown by Sipcot, the petitioners said. In view of these matters, the NGT bench, comprising judicial member Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member K Satyagopal, suspended the EC till further orders.
The Union environment ministry was directed to refer the project proposal to an expert appraisal committee for the issuance of additional Terms of Reference (ToR) so that Sipcot conducted more studies, including collecting fresh baseline data, assessing the impact of the project on the area and neighbouring villages, ascertaining the number of industries situated within a distance of 10km and conducting a cumulative impact assessment.
The Union ministry was directed to issue ToR within a month and Sipcot should conduct a fresh public hearing based on the new EIA report. The tribunal directed Sipcot to not carry out any activity in the project area.