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NGT imposes ?52 crore penalty on Adani power plant for environmental pollution in coastal Karnataka



    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed penalty of ?52 crore on Udupi Power Corporation Ltd. (UPCL), part of Adani Power, for violating environmental laws and polluting its surroundings at Nandikur near Padubidri in Udupi district, Karnataka.

    On May 31, Judicial Member K. Ramakrishnan and expert members Satyagopal Korlapati and Vijay Kulkarni of NGT’s southern bench in Chennai said the environmental compensation was being levied on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

    The ruling was delivered on a batch of original applications and appeals filed by Janajagruti Samithi, Nandikur and others against the setting up of the 600 x 2 MW imported coal-based thermal power plant at Yellur-Nandikur villages.

    Initially, Nagarjuna Fertiliser and Chemical Ltd. was permitted to establish a 2 million tonne per annum steel plant with a 1,000 MW captive power generation plant in Mangaluru taluk by the Karnataka Government on November 15, 1995. Subsequently, KIADB permitted shifting of the power plant to Yellur, Santhur, Padebettu and Thenka villages of Udupi taluk. The project was not location specific and the environment clearances were not in order.

    A few other applications challenged the environment clearance given by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on August 1, 2017, for adding 800 x 2 MW imported coal-based thermal power plant to UPCL, saying existing plants were causing environmental damage.

    Before transferring the applications to NGT (southern bench), the Principal Bench had on March 14, 2019 ruled that the environment clearance given for expansion was bad owing to the failure to hold a public hearing. The bench, however, did not order restoration of the original position with regard to existing power plants on the ground that power production had commenced and the units were integrated with the power grid. However, the polluter has to pay, NGT had said.

    Environment infrastructure

    The southern bench said 50% of the compensation should be utilised for improving environmental infrastructure, including water supply, sewage, STP, solid waste management, healthcare and skill development, by Central Pollution and Karnataka State Pollution Control Boards in consultation with the Udupi Deputy Commissioner. If UPCL does not pay the compensation to CPCB within three months, the board should recover it as per law.

    Carrying capacity

    MoEFCC should consider the carrying capacity study of the region done by the Karnataka Government and incorporate fresh terms of reference (ToR) for another study, before directing UPCL to conduct a fresh Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study by an accredited agency. Only thereafter, it may consider issuing EC for the project’s expansion, NGT said.

    The bench constituted a committee headed by the DC or his/her nominee, and comprising officials from agriculture, horticulture departments and CPCB scientists, to conduct a detailed study on the impact of UPCL activities on agricultural land and farm produce within a 10-km radius. CPCB and KSPCB are expected to periodically monitor the pollution of air, soil and water by UPCL’s activities

    It also said the applicants may approach the tribunal if UPCL again violates environmental laws. They were also free to challenge the environment clearance, if issued by MoEFCC, for expansion of the project.

    CPCB and KSPCB may direct UPCL to adopt Zero Liquid Discharge system to protect the marine environment.


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