Green tribunal reserves order on Jindal's Raigarh power plant

Company broke up its expansion project into two components after MoEF suspended terms of reference for earlier proposal

By Soundaram Ramanathan
Published: Friday 16 November 2012

The National Green Tribunal has reserved its verdict on the appeal against environmental clearance given to Jindal Power Limited (JPL) to expand its coal-based thermal power plant at Raigarh district in Chattisgarh.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had granted the company environmental clearance to add another 1,200 MW capacity to the plant on November 15 last year.

The appeal was filed by two non-profits, Adivasi Kisan Sangathan and Jan Chetna, in February this year. They have alleged serious violations in the public hearing procedure and the environmental clearance process.

Ramesh Agrawal of Jan Chetna said that the company has been flouting norms from the very beginning. “They never allowed us to present our views during the public hearing. There are coal reserves underneath the land acquired for the project land but they haven't received an NOC from the Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Board,” said Agrawal.

MoEF had suspended TORs for expansion project
1997 Jindal obtains permission from MoEF to set up the 1,000 MW plant at Tamnar Village, Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh
March, 2009 It  obtains TORs for increasing plant capacity to 2,400 MW
May, 2010 MoEF's inspection committee visits the site for probing illegal construction
June, 2010 Centre withdraws TORs granted for the expansion project
March, 2011 Jindal receives environmental clearance to increase capacity to 1,200 MW
November, 2011 Receives environmental clearance for another 1,200 MW expansion
February, 2012 NGOs appeal to National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the clearance
November, 2012 NGT reserves the Judgement

The arguments on both side have been concluded and the judgement was reserved last Friday.

At present, the Jindal power plant in Tamnar village of Raigarh has a capacity of 1,000 MW.

Initially, in March 2009, JPL was given the terms of reference (TOR) for increasing the plant's capacity to 2,400 MW. But JPL started the construction work before the grant of environmental clearance by MoEF. This was a violation of Section 2 of the EIA Notification.

In May 2010, MoEF appointed an inspection team to probe this. The team visited the site and found rampant construction for the proposed facility within the premises of the existing plant. Following this, MoEF suspended the TORs. After this JPL broke up the expansion plan into two components and applied for separate environmental clearances for each. JPL has already received an environmental clearance for increasing the plant's capacity to 1,200 MW in March 2011. In November 2011, the ministry cleared the second phase expansion of the project.

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