NGT Southern Zone puts environmental clearance for NTPC Ramagundam plant on hold for 7 months

The National Green Tribunal Southern Zone has directed that the environment clearance issued to National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) power plant in Ramagundam be kept in abeyance for seven months.

An appeal has been filed challenging the Environment Clearance granted to NTPC for starting the thermal plant having a capacity of 2x800MW  at Ramagundam village and mandal in Karimnagar district of Telangana.

The appellant had challenged the issuance of the Environment Clearance on following grounds-

The Expert Appraisal Committee on its 46nd meeting had mechanically recommended the project though the project proponent had not complied with the earlier directions issued by them as per their 45th Meeting wherein they have sought for certain clarification and further informationThe project proponent had not produced any coal linkage with any coal supply unit or mines to ascertain the nature of coal which they were expected to use. They had also not conducted any proper study regarding the radioactivity and heavy metal analysis of the coal to be used from which the fly ash is likely to be produced by using the coal as fuel.The ambient air quality study was not properly conducted. The modelling ambient air quality prepared was not representing the real status in that area.There was no proper cumulative impact assessment of ambient air quality done especially when it is a high polluted 8 industrial cluster. Hydro-geological impact and impact on ground water, surface water etc has not been properly assessed. Further, there was no proper study conducted in respect of Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) claimed by the project proponent as during monsoon they were permitted to discharge the treated water into Godavari River which itself is being polluted on account of other untreated discharge of different types of effluents including sewage water.There was no proper health impact study conducted in that area.

The two power plants are planned to be developed at a cost of Rs 10,598 crore and were expected to be commissioned in the upcoming financial year.

The Tribunal has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to direct the NTPC to conduct various studies and after these studies and assessments are conducted, reports are submitted to the MoEF and their evaluation is done by the Expert Appraisal Committee.

The appeal is disposed with directions to MoEF&CC is directed to conduct a further study on following aspects-

Project proponent shall be directed to conduct radio-activity and heavy metal test of coal to be used including alternative coal which they propose to use and probable impact of the same on environment and the mitigative measures to be taken to reduce impact if any on environmentThe project proponent shall be directed to conduct cumulative impact assessment of ambient air quality modelling for a radius of 15 km from the projectThe project proponent shall be directed to conduct fresh study regarding the area for installation of FGD system, Hydro-geological impact assessment on account of the ash pond due to storage of ash slurry in the ash pond its location and the mitigation measures to be taken for avoiding any possible pollution on account of the same on water quality in that areaThey are also directed to conduct a proper study on the disposal of waste water/effluent by using methodology of ZLD system on a scientific basis taking into account the water qualityAfter getting the impact assessment report as directed, the MoEF&CC is directed to forward the same to Expert Appraisal Committee for further appraisal and getting their recommendations of additional conditions, if any, to be imposed and then consider the same and impose necessary additional conditions for this purpose and allowing the unit to operate till then the environment clearance dated 21.01.2016 and other environment clearance granted in 2017 and 2020 relied on by the project proponent are directed to be kept in abeyance.

The bench headed by Justice K. Ramakrishnan concluded that the Environment clearance granted to the project proponent dated 21.01.2016 and subsequent amended clearance in 2017 and 2020 are directed to be kept in abeyance for a period of 7 months.

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