The National Green Tribunal has issued notice to the Centre on the proposed coal-based power plant in Khurja, Uttar Pradesh just 100kms from Delhi, which is already reeling under severe pollution levels.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the Centre and also to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and M/s project proponent THDC India Limited.
The bench did so on a petition moved by ‘Social Action for Environment and Forest’( SAEF) challenging the environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for setting up of the coal-fired power plant in Khurja.
SAEF’s Vikrant Tongad said the “Project once operational will aggravate the air pollution crisis which is being faced in the Indo Gangetic Plains in general and the National Capital Region specifically”.
He said the project is just 40kms from NTPC Dadri which is also coal-based power plant and wondered as to why was the government focussing on coal when there are other techniques and when Delhi and NCR are already reeling under thick air pollution.
The petition highlights the questionable manner in which a public hearing was called in August, 2015.
The minutes of the hearing reveal that THDC did not make any presentation to explain the pros and cons to the public.
“It is important that the 'pros and cons' and especially the environmental consequences which are likely to arise as a result of setting up of the project is explained to the public. The Minutes does not reveal that any such exercise was done. This aspect is of great concern given the fact that the area already is water stressed; the project would involve diversion of water from the irrigation canal and the will increase the air pollution levels. These impacts ought to have been shared with the public in order to elicit their responses,” it said.
Citing the National Electricity Plan and related studies, the petition says, “India does not need any new coal plants till 2027 hence any additional power plants would only create bad assets for the country and sink in public money. Despite the fact a member from CEA being in the committee these crucial points have been missed by the committee”.