Essar, Hindalco, Reliance, NTPC under green scanner

Essar, Hindalco, Reliance, NTPC under green scanner

The panel will comprise a member each from the ministries of environment and heavy industries, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and Central Pollution Control Board.

Essar Group, Hindalco, Reliance Power and NTPC may come under the radar of a panel constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which will determine if the coal and thermal projects run by these companies in the Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are following the prescribed emissions parameters.

The panel will comprise a member each from the ministries of environment and heavy industries, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) and Central Pollution Control Board.

On Wednesday, the green tribunal also directed the panel to assess the cumulative impact of the emissions on the environment and health of the residents in the two districts, where a host of coal mines and thermal plants are being operated by the companies. Reliance Power’s Sasan UMPP with a capacity of 4,000 MW is also situated in the Singrauli district.

“In the entire Singrauli region (Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) a number of thermal power plants are running, such as NTPC-Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power Station, Hindalco Industries Power Division Renusagar, Kanoria Chemicals and Industries (Power Division) Renukoot, NTPC Rihand Nagar, NTPC Shakti Nagar, Obra Thermal Power Station Unit-A and Unit-B, Anpara Thermal Power Station- A, B and C, Hindalco Industries Limited Renukoot, Hi-Tech Carbon Renukoot, Aditya Birla Chemicals Industries, Dalla Cement Dalla, Dalla Cement (Bhalua, Jugal and Padarach Mines), Orient Micro Abrasives Limited, Renukoot and creating acute pollution and destroyed and continuously destroying the environment in the area which has been also spread in the Singrauli region,” the petition filed by Ashwani Kumar Dubey states.

The tribunal, for now, has directed the panel to determine if the prescribed parameters regarding disposal of fly ash, coal transportation and other activities are being followed or not. The panel has further been directed that in case it finds that the companies have failed to adhere to the prescribed norms leading to health problems of local residents, then it can direct remedial measures as well.

The matter has been listed for further hearing on March 3.

Alleging that pollution and serious ailments are being caused due to coal mining as well as emissions of thermal power stations there, the petition has opposed grant of sanction for any new project or for expansion of existing units till an action plan for improving environmental quality of the areas is implemented.

The tribunal on Wednesday constituted the panel after Dubey showed the bench pictures of coal being transported in open trucks to the thermal power plants, fly ash being dumped in huge open mounds as well as in the Rihand Dam and alleged that the large scale air and water pollution in the region has adversely affected the health of the people there apart from the environment.

Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for Hindalco Industries, contended that the company’s trucks were not being used for transporting coal, adding that the route used by the unit is different from the one cited by the petitioner.

He also contended that Hindalco’s unit in the area is a non-polluting one.

Meanwhile, MPPCB submitted before NGT that there are only four units in Madhya Pradesh and the rest are in Uttar Pradesh. It also said that it will file a status report within a week.

Reliance Power commissions second 660 MW unit of Sasan UMPP

Reliance Power commissions second 660 MW unit of Sasan UMPP

 

PTI Jan 28, 2014, 09.25PM IST
 
(Reliance Power today said…)

NEW DELHI: Reliance Power today said the second 660-MW unit of its Sasan ultra mega power project in Madhya Pradesh has started commercial operations.

The first 660-MW unit of the Sasan UMPP was commissioned in March 2013 while the second unit was synchronised with the grid in December 2013.

“… commercial operation has commenced at the second 660 MW unit of the 3,960 MW (6X660 MW) Sasan UMPP,” the company said in a filing to the BSE

Letter to The Expert Apprisal Committee: Need for a Comprehensive and Broader Cumulative Impact Assessment prior to giving a go ahead for expansion of Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Singrauli

Date: 20 December, 2013

To,

 Shri A.S. Lamba – Chairman

Expert Appraisal Committee 

           &

 Dr. Saroj, – Member

 Director, Secretary

 Ministry of Environment and Forests

 New Delhi.

Subject: Need for a Comprehensive and Broader Cumulative Impact Assessment prior to giving a go ahead for expansion of Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Singrauli

Srijan Lokhit Samiti is a people’s movement, working on social and environmental issues in Singrauli area of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.  In the past three decades Singrauli has seen an influx of industrial projects which have resulted in multiple displacements of people, severe health issues and a highly toxic environment in the area. Srijan Lokhit Samiti has been fighting for people’s rights, displacement, land rights, human rights and environmental issues since thirty years as in this growth the people of Singrauli have been pushed to the periphery.

Srijan Lokhit Samiti appreciate the fact that Sasan UMPP expansion application has been rejected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. But unfortunately, the conditionalities that have been put for the go ahead of the expansion of the Project are inadequate and show complete disregard for the enormity of the environmental and social concerns in the region.

There are significant parameters that have been ignored by the Expert Appraisal Committee (Committee) in the hearing at Ministry of Forest and Environment, dated 2nd September 2012 for expansion of Sasan UMPP that, we want to bring to your notice in this letter. We also want to bring to your attention the concerns of the affected people that were raised at the public hearing for the expansion of the project, which the Committee has pointed out in the minutes of the meeting as having been addressed. We continue to suffer the disastrous environmental and social consequences of this project even as the ministry feels satisfied with the answers provided by Reliance Power Limited and is making way for the project expansion.

The least we can expect of the Ministry is to understand the urgent need to review the carrying capacity of environment and ecology of Singrauli considering the fact that when the Central Pollution Control Board conducted its study ‘Comprehensive environmental assessment of industrial Clusters’ in 2009[i], Environment Ministry decided to impose a moratorium on clearances for all projects in Singrauli coalfields, as environmental pollution in these areas exceeded norms. Subsequently, the moratorium on environmental clearance in 43 critically polluted areas or industrial clusters including Singrauli was lifted after the State Pollution Control Board submitted a plan for mitigation of adverse effects of pollution. But, this did not change the situation on ground.

A recent study(October 2012) done by the Centre for Science and Environment’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory[ii] conducted an extensive analysis of water and soil samples from the region, as well as biological samples such as blood, nails and hair of local people. The aim was to find out precisely what industrial pollution was doing to the district’s environment, ecology and people. The results of the tests exposed a tale of terrible contamination and ill-health stalking the region. High level of mercury and fluoride contamination was found in drinking water and soil. Rihand Reservoir water was found contaminated with mercury. Arsenic was also found in Renuka River. One of the findings of the study is that residents of this region exhibited adverse health conditions and could be suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning, other than normal diseases. The report further states that, the likely cause of mercury pollution in the area is burning of huge amount of coal for power generation.

The report also goes to make recommendation that monitoring of methyl mercury in fish should be done regularly and advisory on eating fish must be issued by the government. This clearly shows that impact on aquatic life.

In   an assessment of environment-mediated production functions of reservoirs done in 1995 and published as a technical paper by FAO[iii], it had been noted that, “Rihand is a large man-made lake of 46 000 ha, into which converge cooling waters from four super thermal power plants under the public sector viz., Singrauli (2 000 MW), Vindhyachal (2 260 MW), Anpara (3 130 MW) and Rihand (3 000 MW), besides the private sectors Renusagar thermal power plant with a capacity of 210 MW. All these power generating plants are located within a small area of 30 km2. Adverse effects of heated discharge on resident aquatic organisms were reported. Mortality of fish and decrease of aquatic life within 50 km of the discharge point, owing to high temperature (46 to 52°C) of the effluent was recorded.”

It further says, “Deposition of fly ash has been reported up to 500 m downstream of the outfall point. Cooling waters of Renusagar power plant discharged into Rihand reservoir are acidic and high in chlorides. Although an increase in water temperature is known to cause deoxygenation, a rise within reasonable limit enhances photosynthetic activities resulting in supersaturation of water with oxygen. All the power plants around Rihand Reservoir are located near the intermediate and lotic sectors, where the fishes are known to congregate. The most deleterious among the impacts of thermal pollution is the blanketing effect on the reservoir bed. Thick mat of fly ash deposit at the bottom bed over the years may seal the nutrients away from the water phase and thereby affect productivity.”

Since 1995, there has been a huge rise in the number of power projects in the region and the water source has been the same, thus just escalating the problems caused from coal and flyash. These are serious concerns and need to be dealt with urgency.

Also, the mining activities and coal mining overdumps pose serious health related concerns and over the years there has been a very high increase in the bronchial diseases apart from various kinds of cancers (liver and kidney being the most common). The area has noted a huge increase in skin disorders and water infections also.

Considering all these factors, we request the Committee to not only look at cumulative impact in terms of water but also, cumulative impact of all the projects in the singrauli industrial belt on air quality and soil quality. We fear that the industrial and mining activities in the region are way beyond the carrying capacity of the area and Singrauli is becoming uninhabitable for the local population.

Apart from serious environmental concerns; there are serious social concerns that have marred Sasan UMPP.  Though the committee seems to be satisfied with the replies of Reliance Power Limited, we would like to bring to your notice the ground situation of people affected the construction and working of Sasan UMPP. One of the most serious concerns in the project is that most of the property of the local people was destroyed much prior to the process of acquiring their land. The way the entire land acquisition process went on was coercive in nature and people were intimidated, false promises for employment were made to acquire land.

Planning for rehabilitation of project affected people was done without any consultation with them, which resulted in construction of rehabilitation colonies which are not at all suitable for the locals and lack basic facilities like water sources, health facilities, and connectivity to the main market and town areas etc. Result is that most of these rehabilitation colonies are still empty.

There has been no consideration shown for the rights of indigenous people who have been affected by the project. The Baiga tribe which is identified as a scheduled tribe in India has been worst hit by this project as this area has been home to them.  Since, most of them lived in the forest that has been allocated to the company for coal mining dumping purposes; they have just had to leave the area as those forests were identified as government land.  With no work and being away from forest most have been reduced to beggary and mere survival has become a struggle.

Apart from this, the modus operandi of the company much resembles that of mafia which resolves any incident of dissent, non agreement with abductions, coercion, pressure from local government, and police. The condition of the labour working at the Sasan UMPP is of grave concern. A number of laborers have died while working at the plant and the information does not go out. Since most of the labourers working there are migrant workers, there is no one out there to even try to find their whereabouts.

It is extremely unfortunate that the committee feels that issues of safe drinking water, electricity and health facilities have been addressed adequately when in reality; the social concerns which arose during the construction and operation of the Sasan UMPP have still not been looked into or resolved as mentioned earlier in the letter.

Another important issue is that requires attention is the fact that for the expansion by addition of 3×660 MW to the project, no additional land has been demanded. This clearly reflects the serious issue of excessive land being acquired at the first phase of the project itself.  Sasan UMPP awarded to Reliance Power has also run into land and environmental problems including ‘failure to get forest clearances’ in the past and has also been in trouble over excessive mining in the coal mines allotted for the project.

At this juncture, it is essential that expansion of the Sasan UMPP should not be given a go ahead, before some critical and comprehensive steps are taken to assess the damage on ecology, environment and people of Singrauli.

Demands:

  • There is an urgent need to conduct a study on the carrying capacity of the environment and ecology of Singrauli before giving a go ahead for any other industrial project in the region.
  • There is an urgent need to do a comprehensive and broader cumulative impact assessment of the impacts of the expansion of the Sasan UMPP covering not only impact on water quality but also on air quality and soil quality and its impact on the local population.
  •  There is a need to do a comprehensive study on the health of the people in Singrauli and the damage caused by the decades of industrial influx and pollution.
  •  The study that has been recommended by the committee to the project proponent for long term study of radioactivity and heavy metals contents on coal needs to be provided with a time frame.
  •  Time frame also needs to be provide for setting up a mechanism for an inbuilt continous monitoring for radioactivity and heavy metals in coal and flyash shall be put in place and in and around the existing ash pond.

We request the Committee withhold the expansion hearing for the Sasan UMPP expansion until all the above stated demands are looked into. We also want to make the point that it is essential that Singrauli should not be evaluated on the parameters of an industrial zone rather; emphasis should be laid to that fact that Singrauli district is home to a population of more than 11 lakhs(approximately) and their survival with dignity should be of paramount importance to the Government.

Sincerely,

Awadhesh Kumar

President

Srijan Lokhit Samiti

Dhuti, Navjivan vihar

Vindhya Nagar, District Singrauli

Pincode- 688585

Email id: srijanlokhitsamit@yahoo.com, awadhesh.sls@gmail.com

Copy to:

  1.          Dr. C.R. Babu – Member, Professor Emeritus,  Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, School of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi, 110007
  2.          Shri Jawahar Lal Mehta – Member,  Former Director (Planning & Projects), Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited,  Shanti Vihar, 514-A, Aryapuri, Ratu Road, Ranchi-834001, Jharkhand
  3.                  Shri T.K.Dhar – Member, 31-B, Mansarovar Apartments,Sector -61, Noida – 201 301,Uttar Pradesh.
  4. .             Shri N.K. Verma – Member, 602, Skytech Magadh, Sector-3, Vaishalia, Ghaziabad (U.P)
  5. .             Shri A.K. Bansal – Member,  804, Swarn Jayanti Apartment, Plot No. 97, Sector- 54, Gurgaon
  6. .              Dr. Ratnavel, MD – Member,  21/7, Thandavarayan Mudali Street,  Old Washermpet, Chennai
  7.                  Shri G.S. Dang – Member, (Former Deputy Director, Indian Institute of Petroleum)  SF-4, Anand Villa Apartments  117/1, New Road, Dehradun- 248 001
  8. .             Representative – Member, Central Pollution Control Board, Officer dealing in Thermal Power, Parivesh Bhawan, East Arjun Nagar, Delhi- 110 032
  9. .            Shri P.D. Siwal, Director – Member, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Ministry of Power, Sewa Bhawan, R.K. Puram, New Delhi – 110 066
  10. .             Dr. S.D Atri – Member,  Deputy Director General of Metrology,Indian Meteorological Department,  Mausam Bhawan, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110 003.
  11. .             Dr. Asha Rajvanshi/Dr. V.B. Mathur – Member,  Wildlife Institute of India, Post Box# 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun- 248 001.
  12. .             Dr. CBS Dutt – Member,  Deputy Director (ECSA)/Scientist-H, National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation, Balanagar, Hyderabad- 500 037

[i] http://cpcb.nic.in/divisionsofheadoffice/ess/NewItem_152_Final-Book_2.pdf

[ii] http://www.cseindia.org/userfiles/Singrauli_Lab_Report_October_16_Final.pd

[iii] http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/V5930E/V5930E00.HTM

CBI to register more FIRs in coal scam probe

CBI to register more FIRs in coal scam probe

The Hindu: NEW DELHI, December 31, 2013

The agency has registered 14 FIRs and three preliminary enquiries to probe coal blocks allocation scam.

Expanding the ambit of its probe, the CBI is likely to register more cases to investigate the alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks to certain private companies mainly between 2006 and 2009.

“The agency may register two to three FIRs soon,” a senior official said in New Delhi.

The agency has registered 14 FIRs and three preliminary enquiries (PEs) to probe coal blocks allocation scam. CBI is looking into allocation made between 2006 and 2009.

The CBI is in the process of closing one of the PEs, in which it was probing alleged irregularities in Anil Ambani’s ADAG group run Ulta Mega Power Project (UMPP) in Sasan, Madhya Pradesh citing a policy decision vetted by empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM).

No further PE in the matter is likely to be closed, the official said.

The preliminary enquiry was registered on the directions of Supreme Court which had asked the CBI to probe 14 issues which included supply of low floor buses by Tata motors to Tamil Nadu government, grant of spectrum and alleged market manipulations and hammering of stocks by Unitech.

CBI sources said it has come to the light that use of surplus coal from the Sasan UMPP was approved on two separate occasions by two EGoMs. They said since it was a policy decision, CBI was not likely to question it.

“The allocation of coal mines to the Sasan project was done to a 100 per cent government-owned company in 2006 when our company Reliance Power had not even won the project.

Government disinvested its shares to Reliance pursuant to a Global Tender in the year 2007.

“The use of surplus coal from the Sasan UMPP has been approved on two separate occasions by two EGoMs,” the CBI had said.

RPower gains after achieving boiler light up for third unit of Sasan UMPP

RPower gains after achieving boiler light up for third unit of Sasan UMPP

Reliance Power rose 1.05% to Rs 67.25 at 15:07 IST on BSEafter the company said that boiler light up has been achieved for its third 660 MW unit at the 3,960 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant.

The company made the announcement during trading hours today, 13 January 2014.

Meanwhile, the S&P BSE Sensex was up 298.16 points or 1.44% at 21,056.65.

On BSE, so far 10 lakh shares were traded in the counter as against average daily volume of 17.55 lakh shares in the past one quarter.

The stock was volatile. The stock rose as much as 1.87% at the day’s high of Rs 67.80 so far during the day. The stock lost as much as 0.22% at the day’s low of Rs 66.40 so far during the day. The stock had hit a 52-week high of Rs 98.50 on 22 January 2013. The stock had hit a record low of Rs 58.55 on 28 March 2013.

The stock had underperformed the market over the past one month till 10 January 2014, sliding 9.39% compared with the Sensex’s 2.34% fall. The scrip had also underperformed the market in past one quarter, declining 7.7% as against Sensex’s 2.4% rise.

The large-cap company has equity capital of Rs 2805.13 crore. Face value per share is 10.

Reliance Power (RPower) said that the achievement of boiler light up for its third 660 megawatts (MW) unit at the 3,960 MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) is a critical milestone of the boiler commissioning activities for the unit.

The first 660 MW unit of the Sasan UMPP had been commissioned in March 2013 while the second unit was synchronized to the grid in December 2013, reached full load and is operational, RPower said.

The Sasan UMPP is the world’s largest integrated power plant and coal mining project.

RPower’s consolidated net profit rose 4.3% to Rs 250.50 crore on 22.4% growth in net sales to Rs 1320.63 crore in Q2 September 2013 over Q2 September 2012.

Reliance Power, a part Reliance Group, is India’s leading private sector power generation company.

Notices served on 9 firms for coal block development failure

Notices served on 9 firms for coal block development failure

Priyadarshi Siddhanta : New Delhi, Tue Dec 31 2013, 02:16 hrs

The coal ministry on Monday served show-cause notices to Reliance Power, Essar and Hindalco for failing to develop the Chhatrasal and Mahan coal blocks in a time-bound manner.

In show-cause notices served to nine companies including Essar Power and Hindalco Industries for Mahan block and Sasan Power Limited for Chhatrasal block (allotted in 2006) in Madhya Pradesh, the ministry has asked them to explain the delay in developing their respective blocks within 20 days failing which they may be canceled.

Sasan power project is an ultra-mega power project with an installed capacity of 4000 MW. The first unit has started producing power on March 30 while the second unit started on December 13. The company’s overall generation capacity has crossed 3,200 MW.

Reliance Power is executing three UMPPs in Sasan (Madhya Pradesh), Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Tilaiya (Jharkhand). It has been allocated Moher, Moher Amlori and Chhatrasal blocks.

Both the blocks had been the part of No-Go areas as categorised by the environment ministry under Jairam Ramesh which was dismantled last year by a group of ministers. But the coal ministry’s inter-ministerial panel believes that despite abolishing the system, both the firms failed to meet the stipulated milestones.

There are reports that the CBI is planning to file closure reports on allocation of mines to Sasan Power, but the coal ministry has cited reasons to justify the show-cause notices.

“We cannot have different yardsticks for separate companies. If there is a case for delay in development of the mines for reasons within their control, then it merits a serious view. The companies have told us that the blocks were part of no-go areas, which is true. But it is more than a year that the said system has been dismantled. Then why have they not developed them?” a senior coal ministry official told The Indian Express.

Power Point

* The ministry has asked them to explain the delay in developing their blocks within 20 days failing which they may be canceled

* Among those served notices are Essar Power and Hindalco Industries for Mahan block and Sasan Power for Chhatrasal block

* Reliance Power is executing three UMPPs and has been allocated Moher, Moher Amlori and Chhatrasal blocks