NLC pollution risk: National Green Tribunal takes suo moto cognisance, notices issued

NLC India Ltd, formerly known as Neyveli Lignite Corporation, however, refutes allegations of wrongdoing. Claims all measures are taken to ensure regulatory guidelines are followed. 
Samples collected within an 8 km radius from the NLC mines and thermal power plants were found to contain Aluminium, Fluoride, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Mercury and Selenium in high concentration.
Samples collected within an 8 km radius from the NLC mines and thermal power plants were found to contain Aluminium, Fluoride, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Mercury and Selenium in high concentration.

CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday took suo moto cognizance of the alleged ground and surface water pollution caused by the NLC India Ltd (NLCIL), formerly known as Neyveli Lignite Corporation. 

The case was registered based on the report published by The New Indian Express titled "Huge Pollution risk in 8 km around NLCIL" dated August 9. 

An NGT bench comprising judicial member Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member K Satyagopal admitted the case.

(Photos | Special Arrangement)
(Photos | Special Arrangement)

They have issued notices to the managing director of NLCIL, the Union Environment Ministry, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the Department of Environment, the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Departments, and the Cuddalore district collector.

The matter has been posted for a hearing on August 28. 

Several villages surrounding the NLC have reported severe ground and surface water contamination. In Tholkappiyar Nagar in Vadakkuvellur village of Cuddalore district, the mercury levels have exceeded the permissible limit by 250 times.

Multiple samples collected within an 8 km radius from the NLC mines and thermal power plants were found to contain elements like Aluminium, Fluoride, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Mercury and Selenium in high concentrations. 

These findings are part of a comprehensive assessment titled 'POWERing Pollution: The Environmental and Pollution Impacts of Thermal Power Stations and Mining Operating in Neyveli & Parangipettai' conducted in the Neyveli region by Chennai-based environmental advocacy group Poovulagin Nanbargal and Manthan Adhyayan Kendra (a centre that monitors water and energy issues) with the involvement of the local communities. 

However, NLC, in a written response to TNIE, claimed that all effluent parameters are within the permissible limits. "NLCIL thermal units and mines are complying with environmental stipulations and are equipped with the required effluent treatment plants to meet the standards prescribed by the CPCB. The quality of treated effluents is being regularly monitored by the TNPCB, the latest being done on June 30, 2023, in which parameters are within permissible limits. In addition, a third-party analysis of water samples is also being carried out as per environment clearance conditions."

A comprehensive study on the combined effects due to all the power plants operated by NLCIL was carried out by M/s Centre for Environment, Health and Safety, an accredited organisation, in 2022, the company statement said. A combined water management study was also done which analysed all sewage and effluent treatment facilities and confirmed that all water parameters are well within permissible limits, it said.

Reports on the effluent analysis and bottom ash analysis depict no adverse impact, the company statement added.

The NLCIL also claimed that it was utilising 100% of the fly ash generated by supplying it to brick manufacturing companies, and cement manufacturing companies by complying with the guidelines of the Union environment ministry, as well as fly ash gazette notifications. "The NLCIL continuously undertakes all the necessary environmental protection measures to ensure air and water quality parameters at the ambient level are well within the permissible limit," it said.

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