Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (July 8, 2020)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 08 July 2020

Fire accident at Neyveli power plant

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) submitted its report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 6, 2020, on the boiler blast incident at Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Ltd (NLCIL), Thermal Power Station-II, Cuddalore district. The incident took place on July 1.

The chief general manager of TPS-II, NLCIL, furnished incident report to TNPCB, informing them of a fire accident that took place when Unit-V of TPS-II of capacity 210 megawatt was taken up for maintenance. At least six workers died and 17 were injured.

A joint inspection by the joint chief environmental engineer, Trichy zone and department of energy and environment, Cuddalore, was carried out on July 3, 2020.

NLCIL officials told the inspection team that the cleaning of lignite dust deposition inside the horizontal box girder may have been done with the help of metal scrappers, and due to friction, the lignite particles got ignited. The combustion within the girder caused workers to suffocate.

The industry had stopped the operations of four boiler units after the fire accident. An ambient air-quality survey was conducted in the vicinity from July 3-4, 2020. The report is awaited.

Deputy director of boilers, Neyveli, in his letter to the director of boilers reported that “the accident occurred due to the combustion in the structural parts while cleaning.”

Compliance monitoring of EC

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) filed its report to the NGT on the implementation of monitoring action plan (MAP) for augmenting compliance monitoring of environmental clearances (EC) in the country.

The report stated that simultaneous action has been initiated to strengthen the legal provision on monitoring as part of EIA Notification, 2006, which, currently, is limited to para 10 on ‘Post Environmental Clearance Monitoring’.

The provision only refers to the procedure related to self-compliance by the project proponent. Monitoring mechanism has now been integrated in draft EIA Notification, 2020, which included procedure for monitoring and dealing with non-compliances and violation, associated penalties, among others.

The report stated that since 2014, about 8,000 Category-A environmental clearances and more than 30,000 category-B clearances had been issued. The MAP scheme has to be designed keeping in view the quantum of work, manpower requirement and resources.

It was mentioned that the number of projects would increase once the ECs given before 2014 were also considered.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute presented the plan of action to implement MAP objectives, which will involve use of data analytics, data assessment, data integration, data triangulation and EC status module.

The additional secretary, MoEF&CC, noted that a comprehensive approach should include monitoring at entity level; ensuring uniform interpretation of EC requirements for consistency across the board; and robust back-end technology driven process that prompt self-correcting mechanism at the organisation level. The mechanism for implementation of MAP ought to be developed keeping short-, medium- and long-term goals and milestones, the report added. 

The report was uploaded to the NGT site on July 7.

Pollution by Bhawani stone crusher

A report by Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPSPCB) stated that Bhawani stone crusher in Bajaura, Kullu district was following environmental norms.

The unit had the necessary EC issued by the competent authority on November 26, 2016, and a valid permanent registration issued by the industries department.

The unit had applied for renewal of consent to operate, which was granted by regional officer, HPSPCB, on May 13.

The unit was inspected on a regular basis and pollution control devices such as sprinklers and wind blocking walls were found to be in place and functional, the report said. 

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