Observing that the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is jeopardising environmental conditions in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur by ferrying coal from mines to power plants in open rail wagons, an exp
Observing that the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is jeopardising environmental conditions in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur by ferrying coal from mines to power plants in open rail wagons, an expert panel of the environment ministry asked the PSU to shift to using closed bogies or look for other alternatives which would also save tonnes of water sprayed to settle the emanating coal dust.
The panel advised this when the NTPC sought permission for continuation of transportation of coal in open wagons for its Sipat Super Thermal Power Project in Bilaspur, which they were only allowed till September 2015 (for a distance of 42 km from mine head to power plant) with the condition that the firm would have to come up with cleaner ways to carry out the task. Thus, no final decision has been taken on the NTPC’s request so far.
“Since water shortage in the area is acute, particularly in the dry months and is just not available even for irrigation in adequate amounts, PP (project proponent — NTPC) should study alternative methodo-logies being utilised to prevent coal dust blow from moving open wagons carrying coal...” said the panel expert appraisal committee on the environmental impact assessment of thermal power and coal mining projects at its latest meeting on March 31.
The expert panel also asked NTPC to properly study the impact of coal transportation in open wagons on the environment and the health of people living in the vicinity, whose results the EAC asked to submit with six months.
“The PP (NTPC) shall carry out ambient air quality monitoring as well as short and long term health survey of people in villages/habitation within one km on either side of the railway track stretching from source to TPP (Thermal Power plant),” the minutes read, adding, “Such studies should be carried out every six months and the reports should thereafter be submitted to the union environment ministry.”
The committee’s advice comes in the backdrop of violation of rules for carrying coal in closed wagons which had been stipulated as far back as in April 2002 when the project had got the environmental clearance. “NTPC, however, had been carrying coal all these years, and was continuing to carry coal even now, in open wagons. This was thus a violation of the EC condition of April 2002,” it said, adding, “NTPC had been asked (in September 2014) to submit the action plan within one year but it had done so only in March 2016, thus again being in violation of the EC condition of Sep 2014.”
An upset panel also opined that that NTPC’s action plan on cleaner ways to ferry coal, which was submitted with a delay, had only standard measures with no reference to anything out of the ordinary.