The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has started taking strict measures to address the problems arising from pollution in the Singrauli industrial region in central India, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The region is known for its coal reserves and is the energy capital of the country, generating about 10 per cent of India’s coal-based power. But its people are extremely poor and suffer from severe pollution, including mercury poisoning.

Taking note of a report submitted by a high-power committee chaired by A B Akolkar, member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), that had identified several air and water pollution concerns of the region, the tribunal on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh authorities to take immediate action and address issues of water pollution in the area.

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Mercury in air, water
The bench chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar has specifically asked the state authorities to ensure good quality drinking water supply to local residents. As an immediate measure, the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments have been asked to provide potable water to the residents through tankers.

‘Install RO plants’

Based on “the polluter pays” principle, NGT has asked chief secretaries of the two states to ask big industries, particularly thermal power plants, to install and commission reverse osmosis (RO) units of capacity commensurate with the local demand for water purification and supply drinking water to residents. Its cost is to be borne by the industries. If the industries fail to comply with the order, the respective pollution control boards may give closure notices to them.

The order of the bench follows two separate petitions filed before the central bench of NGT by Singrauli residents Jagat Narayan Viswakarma and Ashwani Kumar Dubey, complaining against pollution in the Singrauli-Sonbhadra area. The thermal power plants in Singrauli together have an installed capacity of about 12,700 MW. The mines produce nearly 83 million tonnes of coal per annum (MTPA). The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has identified the region as a critically polluted area (CPA).

“The NGT order certainly raises hope that pollution problems in the region will now be addressed,” says Dubey, who is also an advocate in the matter. Read more

Courtesy: Down To Earth