Chennai, 10 November 2014: In a far-reaching order, the National Green Tribunal quashed the corrigendum environmental clearance given to IL&FS’s 3600 MW coal-fired power plant in Cuddalore district and made critical observations about the manner in which a Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment (CEIA) for a power project should be carried out and the process which the Experts Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests should consider such reports.
The order emphasized that the IL&FS will have to carry on a fresh Rapid CEIA study for which they should:
“a. Collect baseline/primary data of each and every existing industry as required under prevalent regulations and compare with National Standards as notified by the Government from time to time.
b. Collect data regarding treated effluents discharge/likely to be discharged by such industries.
c. Collect primary baseline data on socio-economic environment.
d. Collect data regarding industry in offing and which are likely to come in next five years as per PCPIR declaration as aforesaid in liaison with State PCB and/or the project proponents.
e. Carry out impact prediction/assessment using appropriate mathematical models.
f. Suggest appropriate management plan/s for significant impacts including financial implications.”
The order also set out that such study (CEIA) “should be placed before the EAC and the EAC shall consider such report and assess whether comprehensive CEIA study is necessary or not and advice the Respondent No. 3 accordingly and thereafter shall carry out the appraisal of the said study or the comprehensive CEIA Study as the case may be as per EC Regulations 2006 and may either recommend the grant of EC on certain specific conditions or decline to recommend the grant of EC by passing a speaking/reasoned order i.e. either recommend or refuse to recommend on reasons adduced therefor.”
The NGT has also come down heavily on the Expert Appraisal Committee of the MoEF for “not applying its mind” in granting the corrigendum Environment Clearance to the project based on the CEIA.
The appeal, seeking quashing of the Environmental Clearance granted to IL&FS on 14.08.2012, was filed by T. Murugandam, former president of Killai panchayat, and two members of the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors.
Advocates Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary appeared for the applicants. The public hearing for the IL&FS project was held on 5 February 2010 and the Environmental Clearance was granted on 30 May 2010.
Full text of the NGT Order can be downloaded from the following link:
Chronology of the IL&FS Power Plant, Cuddalore
05.02.2010 Public Hearing for 3600 MW TPP of IL&FS held in Cuddalore
31.05.2010 EC Granted by MoEF
October 2010 EC Challenged at NEAA, matter transferred to NGT
23 May 2012 EC Suspended by NGT pending a Cumulative Environmental Impact Assessment
14.08.2012 Corrigendum to original EC issued by MoEF
Aug/ September 2012 Petitioners (T Muruganandam and Othrs) challenge the corrigendum
July 2014 Final hearing for the case completed
10.11.2014 Final Order of NGT