Power stations across India are being put under the spotlight for their environmental impact and possible contribution to pollution in the country, after concerns were raised about the potential effect that new developments would have on air quality and the environment.

The country’s National Green Tribunal is currently seeking the response of the Centre, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, as well as several industries, such as Essar and Hindalco, on a plea that opposes new power projects in Singrauli and Sonebhadra, because of concerns over the environment.

The Hindu newspaper reports that a new petition alleges that pollution and “serious ailments” are being caused due to coal mining, as well as the emissions of thermal power stations.

It has opposed grant of sanction for any new project or for the expansion of existing units, until a plan of action for improving the environmental quality of the regions can be successfully introduced.

Supreme Court lawyer Ashwani Kumar Dubey is leading the petition, which also make claims against Mahan Coal Ltd, a joint venture of Essar Power and Hindalco Industries, regarding the alleged felling of trees without the the necessary forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) being obtained.

He refers to a 2010 letter written by the former environment minister Jairam Ramesh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which states the proposal to grant stage-I clearance to Mahan coal block of Essar and Hindalco was under consideration, due to the mine being in a “no go zone with good biodiversity”.

In his letter, Mr Ramesh also said that a forest advisory committee (FAC) is considering Essar Power’s proposal for clearance, and had made the decision to send experts to assess the impact of the project, due to it being a so-called “sensitive case”.

Mr Dubey alleges that the Vindhyachal, Rihand and Singrauli thermal power stations run by NTPC, in addition to actions being carried out other industries in the two districts, are leading to severe respiratory ailments and diseases such as cancer, as a result of the discharge of mercury, fly ash and other effluents.

Courtesy: Environmental Technology