Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

AVESH TIWARI@PatrikaNews | 7 June 2016

Have you heard of the Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt? This region at the cusp of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is billed by many as India’s energy capital. What nobody talks of is how this belt is on the brink of a disaster that can match the Bhopal disaster.Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

The methyl isocyanate leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal led to India’s biggest industrial disaster on 2 December, 1984. Such was the scale of the leak that horror stories haven’t stop coming out three decades on. But have we learnt any lesson?

Doesn’t seem so if we look at Sonbhadra-Singrauli. The 40 square-kilometre area hosts some half-a-dozen power plants – both coal-fired and hydro-electric. Their combined capacity of about 21,000 megawatts (MW) cater to a large part of the country.

Now private groups such as Reliance, Lanco and Essar as well as state-owned utilities are set to add 20,000 MW more by setting up several projects in the next five years.

The belt also houses several other industries like an aluminum, chemical and carbon factories of the Birlas and a cement factory owned by the Jaypee Group.

But these impressive numbers tell just one side of the story.

The Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt is also known for the plight of its farmers whose land has been ruined by mining and limestone.

This region is also home to over five lakh Adivasis. In fact, Sonbhadra is the only district of Uttar Pradesh where tribals are in a majority.

However, the fruits of industrial activity have barely reached these people with most of them find it difficult to make ends meet.

The region is traversed by eight small rivers. With the area accounting for nearly 16% of the total carbon emission in the country, it is of little surprise that all the river waters are completely polluted.

In other words, every inch of this land is prone to a catastrophe like Bhopal. The greed of industrialists, politicians and bureaucrats is not the only reason for this risk.

The media is equally to blame for this state of affairs. It will highlight Sonbhadra-Singrauli’s issues only after a disaster. Otherwise, it is happy to look the other way.

Enrico Fabian for The Washington Post via Getty Images
The chloro chemicals division of Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd, located at Renukoot, produces some of the most dangerous substances for industrial use. It was acquired by the Aditya Birla group in 2011 at a cost of Rs 830 crore.

It is estimated that the waste produced by this factory kills 40-50 people every year on average. Most of this waste is released directly into the Rihand dam. And the effect is telling on the surrounding population.

Thousands of residents in hundreds of villages around the Rihand Dam have been completely or partially crippled.

“Waste from the Kanoria Chemicals factory at Renukoot kills 40-50 people every year on an average”
In December 2011, 20 people of the Kamari Dand village in Sonbhadra district lost their lives after using the water from the Rihand Dam. Thousands of cattle had also met with the same fate.

Investigations proved that the chemicals released from the Kanoria Chemicals Factory had poisoned the water. Yet, the issue did not attract enough media attention.

Earlier, a gas leak from the Kanoria plant had killed five people in January 2005. The accident reportedly occurred because of the negligence of company officials.

Villages after village in Sonbhadra are falling prey to the fatal disease of Fluorosis, a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine compounds.

There is hardly a person in villages like Padwa Kodawari and Kusumha, who has not been afflicted with some of kind of physical deformity due to this disease.

The power plants of Sonbhadra-Singrauli emit 1.5 tonnes of fly ash every year. This fly ash is composed of mercury that is extremely harmful to the human body. Traces of mercury have been found in the samples of human hair, blood and even crops of this region.

The locals have no option but to live with the impact of this pollution. The sun here is paled with the dust coming out of towering chimneys. A blanket of haze engulfs the air as soon as the evening sets in.

The pollution has not even spared the still-to-be-born babies. The death of children during the pre-pregnancy period has become a regular occurrence.

Yet, the state-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without any environmental clearance. The Central Pollution Control Board has ordered a close down stating they are ‘too dangerous.’

“State-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without environmental clearance”
However, nobody seems baffled with such blatant flouting of norms. The seeds of a Bhopal-like tragedy are being sown, not only in Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt but in every corner of the country.

The state as well as the Union Government is avoiding accountability in the name of development. For now, the Sonbhadra-Singrauli region is nothing more than a hen laying golden eggs for them.

While one Warren Anderson may have gotten away, there are many more in the making.


रिलायंस पॉवर ने दी पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी को धमकी , 434 करोड़ रुपये दो नहीं तो 300 मेगावाट बिजली नहीं देंगे

घुमंतू संवाददाता | जबलपुर

सासन पावर ने एमपीपीएमसीएल को थमाया नोटिस

रिलायंस ने मप्र पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी (एमपीपीएमसीएल) को धमकी दी है कि – यदि उसने 434 करोड़ रुपए का जल्द भुगतान नहीं किया तो वह उसकी निर्धारित सप्लाई तीन सौ मेगावाट घटा देगा। रिलायंस के सासन पावर ने इस बाबत अपने सबसे बड़े प्रोक्यूरर एमपीपीएमसीएल को नोटिस भी भेजा है। एमपीपीएमसीएल के प्रबंध संचालक संजय शुक्ला ने इसकी पुष्टि करते हुए कहा है कि – सासन पावर का यह नोटिस दबाव की राजनीति के सिवाय कुछ नहीं है, जबकि उसे ऐसा करने का अधिकार नहीं है।

सीईआरसी में जाने की तैयारी
सासन पावर का बिजली सप्लाई घटाने का नोटिस मिलते ही मप्र पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी के अफसर सीईआरसी (सेन्ट्रल इलेक्ट्रिसिटी रेग्युलरटी कमीशन) जाने की तैयारी में जुट गए हैं। दैनिक भास्कर की जब इस मुद्दे पर एमडी संजय शुक्ला से बात हुई तब वे दिल्ली में ही थे। उन्होंने कहा कि – चिंता की कोई बात नहीं है। इस नोटिस को लेकर एमपीपीएमसीएल सीईआरसी के पास जा रही है।

दबाव की राजनीति है यह
मप्र विद्युत अभियंता संघ के महासचिव वी.के.एस. परिहार इसे दबाव की राजनीति बताते हैं। वह कहते हैं कि पहले तो सासन पॉवर ने सस्ती बिजली देने के नाम पर राज्यों से करार किया और इसके नाम पर सैकडा़ें़ करोड़ रुपए के प्रत्यक्ष/अप्रत्यक्ष लाभ मप्र सरकार से हासिल किए। अब यही सस्ती बिजली खुले बाजार में बेच कर मुनाफा कमाने का वह रास्ता खोज रहा है। ऐसा किया जा सके इसीलिए एमपीपीएमसीएल को उसके हिस्से की 1480 मेगावाट बिजली में से 300 मेगावाट की सप्लाई घटाने का नोटिस दिया है।

एससी में जा चुके हैं
ऑल इंडिया पॉवर इंजीनियर्स फेडरेशन के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष शैलेन्द्र दुबे कहते हैं कि – एआईपीईएफ व एमपीपीएमसीएल सहित आधा दर्जन से अधिक प्रोक्यूरर सासन पावर की सीओडी (कॉमर्शियल ऑपरेशन डेट) 31 मार्च 2013 मान्य किये जाने के एप्टेल के फैसले के खिलाफ सुप्रीम कोर्ट में याचिका दाखिल कर चुके हैं। इसलिए जब तक वहां इस पर अंतिम फैसला नहीं हो जाता, एमपीपीएमसीएल सहित बाकी प्रोक्यूरर क्यों सीओडी क्लेम अमाउंट का भुगतान करेंगे।

इसलिए नहीं है अधिकार
एमडी संजय शुक्ला कहते हैं कि सीओडी क्लेम के मुद्दे पर एप्टेल के फैसले के बाद सासन पावर द्वारा बकाया राशि चुकाने बाबत केवल एक पत्र भेजा गया है। बकाया राशि का उसने कोई बिल नहीं भेजा है। बिना बिल केवल पत्र के आधार पर 354 करोड़ रुपए का बकाया और उस पर 80 करोड़ के ब्याज का कैसे भुगतान किया जा सकता है। बकौल श्री शुक्ला- जब तक रिलायंस का सासन यूएमपीपी अपना गणनात्मक बिल नहीं देगा, हम क्लियरीफिकेशन कैसे कर सकेंगे?

मोरवा से 50 हजार लोग होंगे विस्थापित

राजपत्र में प्रकाशन के साथ तमाम अटकलों पर लगा विराम
केन्द्र सरकार ने मोरवा सहित 10 गांवों की जमीन अधिग्रहित करने मंजूरी दी
47 सौ एकड़ से ज्यादा भूमि पर कब्जा करेगा एनसीएल

इस क्षेत्र में होगा भू-अर्जन
ग्राम पटवारी सर्किल संख्या क्षेत्र हेक्टेयर में
चटका              29               42
झिंगुरदह          29             507
चूरीदह            29                9
गोरबी              92             10.3
कठास            92              3.54
कुसवई           29               0.52
मेढौली             28            638.3
पंजरेह              29            558
चटका             29             127
झिंगुरदह         29             30
कुल- 1925.66 हेक्टेयर
यह भी उल्लेख- केन्द्रीय सरकार को यह प्रतीत होता है कि अनुसूची में उल्लेखित परिक्षेत्र की भूमि में कोयला अभिप्राप्त किए जाने की संभावना है जिसके लिए महाप्रबंधक राजस्व, पुनर्वास और पुनस्र्थापन, एनसीएल सिंगरौली के कार्यालय अथवा महाप्रबंधक अथवा जिला कलेक्टर सिंगरौली के कार्यालय में किया जा सकता है।

अभी तक ऐसा समझा जा रहा था कि एनसीएल कभी भी मोरवा को कोयला निकालने के लिए खाली नहीं कराएगा। हजारों लोगों का विस्थापन और उनकी पुर्नबसाहट कोई आसान काम नहीं है। लेकिन, ऐसी तमाम अटकलों पर केन्द्र सरकार ने विराम लगाते हुए मोरवा सहित आसपास के 10 गांवों की जमीन अधिग्रहीत करने धारा 4 का राजपत्र में प्रकाशन कर दिया है। इसके साथ ही 50 हजार से ज्यादा लोगों का उजड़ना तय हो गया है। संभवत: यह देश का अब तक का सबसे बड़ा विस्थापन होगा। मेढ़ौली के मुददे पर एनसीएल से नाराज चल रहे विस्थापितों का साथ देने मोरवा के लोग पहले ही सड़कों पर उतर चुके हैं लेकिन अब केन्द्र की अधिसूचना के बाद उनका क्या रुख होगा, ये आने वाला समय बताएगा। उल्लेखनीय है कि दैनिक भास्कर से चर्चा के दौरान अगस्त माह में ही एनसीएल सीएमडी टीके नाग ने इस बात के संकेत दे दिए थे कि मोरवा के अधिग्रहण की दिशा में जल्द प्रक्रिया शुरू हो सकती है। एनसीएल की जयंत, ककरी और दुधिचुआ कोल परियोजनाओं के विस्तार के लिए कोयला मंत्रालय की ओर से भारत सरकार ने असाधारण अधिसूचना का प्रकाशन कर दिया है। यह अधिसूचना एनसीएल मुख्यालय के 16 मार्च को लिखे गये पत्र के आधार पर 4 मई को लागू की गई है।

इस अधिसूचना के जारी होने के बाद मोरवा सहित आस पास के दस गांवों से कोयला निकालने के लिए भू- अर्जन की प्रक्रिया के लिए पहला कदम बढ़ा दिया गया है। इस अधिसूचना के साथ ही कहा गया है कि संबंधित हितबद्ध कोई भी व्यक्ति जो भी इस भूमि या उसके किसी भाग के ऊपर अपना आक्षेप रखता हो अथवा अर्जित भूमि में कि सी प्रकार की नुकसान की संभावना के लिए प्रतिकर का दावा कर सकता है। आपत्ति करने वाले व्यक्ति को 90 दिनों के भीतर महाप्रबंधक राजस्व, पुनर्वास एवं पुनस्र्थापन एनसीएल सिंगरौली के पास अपना आवेदन देना होगा। इस अधिसूचना को जारी करते हुए अधिसूचना में दो अनुसूची भी संलग्र की गई है जिसमें भूमि के अर्जन का उद्देश्य और उसकी सीमा रेखा का उल्लेख भी किया गया है। साथ अर्जन के मद आने वाली भूूमि का क्षेत्रफल पटवारी सर्किल व गांवों के नाम भी दर्शाये गये हैं। साथ ही गांवों की सीमा को बताते हुए उनके अधीनस्थ अर्जित की जाने वाली जमीन का भी उल्लेख किया गया है।

Displaced 35 Years Ago, One Man Fights For A Piece Of His Land

May 23, 2016

When India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) established a power project four decades ago, the city of Singrauli began its journey to become “India’s Energy Capital” and also played witness to the displacement of thousands of people.

During that time, the World Bank provided financial support to the government of India to build this power project, the beginning of what would soon become an infestation of power projects in the region. This inundation of dirty coal projects has, over the decades, ultimately displaced around 300,000 people, many of whom have faced multiple displacements over the last 35 years. Some of them have even been displaced up to four times, but neither the state government nor the Indian central government has paid any attention to their struggle.

People who lost their land during the NTPC Singrauli Power Project in 1977 are still struggling to get their rehabilitation land allotment.

One of these displaced people, Ram Shubhang Shukla, is taking a stand.

“I am tired of running after government officials to get my land allotted,” Shukla said. “I am a physically challenged person and in spite of that, I had to run from one office to the other but to no avail. I have lost all hope, and now after all this, I have been sitting in protest near Rajiv Gandhi Baazar since January 19, 2016. I have been forced to sit in protest.”

Ram Shubhang Shukla has been given 1,200 rupees — the equivalent of less than $18 U.S. dollars — as compensation for his house, but he was not allotted any plot for the land he lost. Even after repeated reminders to officials, all Ram Shubhang has received is false assurances. He further stated that his brother and father have received plots of land but he has not.

A number of displaced families have been allotted land, but more often than not, those lands are already occupied by other people. After hearing about Ram Shubhang sitting in protest to get his land, a number of people who similarly have had to fight for their land, people like Jaggnath Giri from Kota, have joined him in protest.

It is clear that Ram Shubhang Shukla is not alone in his fight, but Singrauli still continues to displace hard-working people in the name of coal. Some have failed to raise their voice, and some, like Ram Shubhang , are still continuing to fight the system for their rights.

Ram Shubhang says that he met administrative officials responsible for the power projects — Mr. Gautum Singh Bhati, section officer Y. K. Chaturvedi, and many other officials — but to no avail.

Ram Shubhang calls on the Madhya Pradesh state government and Indian central government to follow through on their failed promises and allot him and all the other people who have been wrongfully displaced their resettlement land. He also calls on the World Bank, the financer of the NTPC project, to investigate the situation and pressure the government to follow through on their broken promises.

Ram Shubhang Shukla had to give up his protest after 63 days due to ill health. Neither the state government nor central government has taken any step toward fulfilling his legitimate demands.

“I have not taken back my demands or protest,” Shukla said. “Due to my ill health and extremely harsh summer (with temperatures soaring to 49 degrees Celsius or ~120 degrees Fahrenheit), I cannot sit in protest since I don’t want to give my family a tough time. I will sit again in protest as soon as i feel a little better and will continue to demand for my rights.”

Image Source: Joe Athialy

Rajesh Kumar is a Research Associate for Bank Information Center, South Asia.

See more stories by this author


Date: 19 February, 2014


 Dr. A.B. Akolkar

Member Secretary

Central Pollution Control Board

New Delhi 


Subject: Submission to the Committee formed By National Green Tribunal on environmental degradation in Singrauli 


This submission is to the Committee formed by the National Green Tribunal in the original Application No.  276 of 2013(Ashwani Kumar Dubey Vs. Union of India)as per its order on 29th of  January 2014 to inspect the industrial region of Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh and Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh and to assess their impact on environment , ambient air quality and health of people in these areas.

 SrijanLokhitSamiti 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. SrijanLokhitSamiti 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.

 As a concerned group we want to bring to your notice the environmental degradation we have witnessed since the past 30 years in our region, which till now has been ignored by the concerned authorities. Singrauli has come to the verge of being an ecological disaster and has also been a subject matter of researches and studies since the early 90’s and has validated our concerns of environment time and again. Below is a compilation of these studies that clearly corroborate environmental degradation we have been fighting against and witnessing.

1. Central Pollution Control Board conducted its study ‘Comprehensive environmental assessment of industrial Clusters’ in 2009[1], based on which Environment Ministry decided to impose a moratorium on clearances for all projects in Singrauli coalfields, as environmental pollution in this area 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.

2. A recent study (October 2012) done by the Centre for Science and Environment’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory[2]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.

3.  A study on “Effect of Coal Based Industries on Surface Water Quality of Singrauli Industrial Area of M.P. (India)” published in IOSR Journal of Applied Chemistry, July 2012[3] established the impact of waste water discharge has been determined by analyzing the water sample with the help of the standard parameter. The result clearly indicates that the surface and ground water of the said area is being polluted substantially.

The report establishes that,

“Due to rapid industrialization and modernization the coal based industries are increasing at an alarming rate. The Coal based industries, such as by product coke- plants, coal washeries and thermal power plants release their liquid effluents, which are needed urgent attention for the treatment before they are discharged into fresh water streams.

The impact of Fluoride pollution is severe in the belt of Bargawan, Waidhan and Deosar are of Singrauli district. Incidence of white spots, skin infections and lumps of dead skin has been reported among the population of study area. A high percentage of gastro-intestinal parasitic infection was also found in the faecal sample of cattle in the village affected by effluents from coal based industries and coal mining.”

4.  Study done in 2012 “Contamination of Drinking Water Due to Coal-Based Thermal Power Plants in India”[4]assessed the impact of an Anpara and Renusgar coal-based thermal power plants(both plants located in Singrauli region) on drinking water sources. In this work, the concentration of trace metals such as Pb, Cd, Ni, and As in groundwater samples obtained from hand pumps located near these power plants were measured. The concentration levels of all the studied heavy metals in groundwater were found to be higher than the maximum acceptable limits of World Health Organization for drinking water.

5. In an article published in Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology in  October 2011,“Bioaccumulation of Metals in the Edible Catfish Heteropneustesfossilis (Bloch) Exposed to Coal Mine Effluent Generated at Northern Coalfield Limited, Singrauli, India[5]”; it is noted that:

“Metal accumulation in various tissues of Heteropneustes fossilis exposed to the effluent generated from an open cast coal mine was investigated. The contents of Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Ni, Pb, Cd and Cr in the effluent were above the permissible limits as suggested by the different pollution control agencies.Out of the eight metals investigated, accumulation (mg kg−1 dry weight of tissue) of Fe was maximum in every tissues followed by liver (265.88 ± 49.89) > kidney (153.0 ± 65.85) > gills (50.66 ± 23.923) > brain (49.303 ± 5.11) > air breathing organs (27.98 ± 10.93) > skin (19.56 ± 2.53) > muscles (8.74 ± 0.83). Accumulation of Fe, Cd, Pb and Cr in most of the tissues of exposed fish were above the permissible limits indicating their potential hazardous impact on fish as well as on fish consumers. Even in the tissues of untreated fish the concentrations of Fe (12.26–428.47), Cd (0.2–1.22), Pb (0.02–9.42) and Cr (1.14–11.05) were above the permissible limits.



The study establishes contamination in aquatic life and water sources in the region which had previously been established in a research conducted in 1995(mentioned below in point 8).

6. A study[6] for the assessment and management of the air quality was carried out around Jayant open cast coal mining situated at Jayant in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, India from January 2007 to December 2008 published in Indian Journal of scientific Research in 2010  establishes:

 “Air quality date at Jayant coal mining indicated that the concentration of SO , NO , TSP and dust fall rate and air borne trace metals were highest concentration of pollutant. 

 In Jayant coal mines suspended area the concentration of SO and NO were below the NAAQS and CPCB India at all the monitoring station but TSP and settled dust concentration were well above the limit.  Zinc and Maganese were present in highest qualities in both TSP and settled dust. In settled dust Zn showed maximum concentration followed by Mn, Pb, Cd, Ni and minimum in Cr however in TSP, Zn in followed by MnPb Cr Ni and minims Cd.”

 7. A study done on ‘Assessment of contamination of soil due to heavy metals around coal fired thermal power plants at Singrauli region of India’[7]  in 2010 establishes contamination of soil around four large coal-based Thermal Power Plants. The concentration of Cadmium, Lead, Arsenic and Nickel was estimated in all four directions from Thermal Power Plants.

The soil in the study area was found to be contaminated to varying degrees from coal combustion byproducts. The soil drawn from various selected sites in each direction was largely contaminated by metals, predominantly higher within 2–4 km distance from Thermal Power Plant. Within 2–4 km, the mean maximum concentration of Cadmium, Lead, Arsenic and Nickel was 0.69, 13.69, 17.76, and 3.51 mg/kg, respectively. It was also observed that concentration was maximum in the prevalent wind direction. The concentration of Cadmium, Lead, Arsenic and Nickel was highest 0.69, 13.23, 17.29 and 3.56 mg/kg, respectively in west direction where wind was prevalent.

8.In   an assessment of environment-mediated production functions of reservoirs done in 1995 and published as a technical paper by FAO[8], 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.”

9. In a study done in 1991, “Environmental degradation of the Obra-Renukoot-Singrauli Area, India, and its impact on natural and derived ecosystems”[9],it was noted that,

Quarrying for limestone, the establishment of a cement factory, thermal power stations and the construction of the G.B. Pant Sagar reservoir have resulted in a rapid buildup of human population, the displacement of the original population, deforestation and conversion of natural forest ecosystems into savanna and marginal croplands. The converted ecosystems are under immense biotic stresses such as lopping, grazing, etc.The rainfall is meagre and erratic, the soils are highly weathered and impoverished, consequently the natural forests, as well as the derived ecosystems, are fragile. Signs of desertification are widespread. A rapid depletion in the wildlife has occurred.

The establishment of thermal power stations and chemical and cement factories has also resulted in large scale gaseous air pollution, particularly of SO2 and HF, pollution due to particulate matter through fly ash and cement dust, and that due to liquid effluents. Surface coal mining has caused extensive damage to the natural ecosystems with growing dumps of overburden. The latter needs to be stabilized.”

These studies over a period of time,just go to establish that no serious attention was paid to these scientific studies which clearly established the degrading condition of the environment in Singrauli since past two decades.With this submission, we demand that these studies should be referred to and attention should be paid to the critical pollution levels in Singrauliwhich has been established by these scientific studies including the one commissioned by the Central Pollution Control Board; before the Committee submits its report to the National Green Tribunal.

In view of the above, it is pertinent that critical and comprehensive steps are taken to assess the damage on ecology, environment and people of Singrauli. We also strongly demand that the committee should recommend following to the Hon’bleNational Green Tribunal:

  • To conduct a study on a thorough and comprehensive review of air, soil and water contamination in Singrauli by competent institutions.All projects under consideration / construction must be stayed until this report comes out.
  • To announce a moratorium on all new projects in the area till the report comes out.
  • To conduct a comprehensive study on the health of the people in Singrauli and the damage caused by the decades of industrial influx and pollution.
  • To find errant industries flouting rules and laws in the region and take exemplary punitive actions.
  • To seek a review from the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Boards of the Action Plan for mitigation of Pollution that was submitted by them based on which the moratorium on all projects in Singrauli was lifted in 2010.

We will be happy to provide more information if required.


Looking forward to hearing from you.



Awadhesh Kumar



Dhuti, Navjivanvihar

Vindhya Nagar, District Singrauli

Pincode- 688585

Singrauli pollution a matter of serious concern, admits high power government panel

Date:Mar 6, 2014

Report submitted to National Green Tribunal finds serious lapses in disposal of fly ash, but skims over health and environmental impacts of pollution in India’s power generation hub


The committee headed by CPCB member secretary A B Akolkar found that major power plants are dispose of fly ash slurry into the Rihand reservoir. The reservoir was found to be further contaminated by effluent discharges from coal mining projects in the areaThe committee headed by CPCB member secretary A B Akolkar found that major power plants are disposing of fly ash slurry into the Rihand reservoir. The reservoir was found to be further contaminated by effluent discharges from coal mining projects in the area

A report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has confirmed the ever-increasing burden of pollution in Singrauli industrial belt, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The report by a high power committee, chaired by A B Akolkar, member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), has identified several air and water pollution concerns that continue to add to the pollution burden of the region.

“Pollution problems in the Singrauli- Sonbhadra area from industrial activities is a serious concern,” says Akolkar. The region has already been identified as a critically polluted area (CPA) by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

The report was filed earlier this week in response to a case currently being heard at the tribunal on pollution in Singrauli. The area consists of north east area of Madhya Pradesh and southern part of Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. According to the petitioner, Ashwani Dubey, a resident of Singrauli who is a lawyer, “heavy industrial activities are a major source of pollution in the area and causing immense health impacts.” “Incremental coal mining activities in the region and the rapid development of coal-based thermal power plants has resulted in acute air and water pollution, leading to serious health problems among the residents of the locality ,which remain unaddressed,” says Dubey  (see ‘India’s Minamata‘ and ‘Mercury in air, water‘).

Following the submissions of the petitioner, the NGT bench chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar had passed directions on January 29 for setting up a committee to inspect the entire area. The committee was to investigate and report on whether major industries in the area were adhering to prescribed standard of emissions, check their individual emissions at the stack level, disposal of fly ash and assess their cumulative impact on the environment. The committee was also asked to check ambient air quality and ascertain whether transportation of coal and other goods to the industries in the area is causing health hazards on the road/ streets of the two districts.

Singrauli’s curse

Singrauli region, a major power hub of the country, is dotted with coal mines and coal-fired thermal power plants, which together have an installed capacity of about 12,700 MW. The mines produce nearly 83 million tonnes of coal per annum (MTPA). Most of the coal mines are located on the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The area also has aluminium smelting plants, chemical industry, cement industry, stone crushers and other industries.

In January 2010, MoEF had declared Singrauli as a critically polluted area on the basis of the comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) of CPCB.  The CEPI is a measure of the severity of air, water and land pollution in industrial clusters and cities. Areas having aggregate CEPI scores of 70 are considered to be critically polluted, requiring detailed investigations in terms of the extent of damage and formulation of appropriate remedial action plan for managing pollution. Singrauli, with a CEPI score of 81.73, was rated the ninth most critically polluted area of India. As a result, in January 2010 a moratorium on new projects, including expansion projects, was imposed on the area. The states were to submit an action plan to address the environmental concerns in the region. Based on the action plans submitted by the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Boards and CPCB’s recommendations MoEF lifted the moratorium in July, 2011.

Observations of Akolkar Committee

The Akolkar committee visited Singrauli industrial area on February 9 and 10. Other committee members included K K Garg, director with MoEF (Lucknow), Sushil Lakra, industrial advisor with Union Ministry of Heavy Industries, J S Yadav, member secretary of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and R K Jain, member secretary of Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB).

The report based on the site inspection and inputs from state officials, some major industrial stakeholders in the area, such as NTPC, Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL), and civil society groups, was submitted to the tribunal on March 3. The committee found serious lapses in disposal and management of fly ash in the area. Dry abandoned ash ponds in the area were found to be left open without provision of proper vegetation cover.  Trucks, often burdened with excess loads of coal and without proper cover, were found to be spilling coal and fly ask during transportation. Disposal of fly ash slurry in the Rihand reservoir was also a serious concern. Major players like NTPC were found to dispose of fly ash slurry generated from their super thermal power plant into the Rihand reservoir. The reservoir was found to be further contaminated by effluent discharges from coal mining projects in the area. It was noted that effluent from the NCL coal mining projects in Dudhichua was being discharged in the reservoir through Balia Nala. The committee also pointed out problems with management of mine overburden by coal mining projects and management of hazardous wastes by industries.

Based on the observations, the committee recommended that the action plans formulated by the pollution control boards of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh for various categories of industries in the area should be duly followed by industries in a time-bound manner and that a quarterly progress reports must be provided to the respective state pollution control boards. The process also needs to be monitored closely, the committee said.

Specific recommendations have also been given for fly ash management through 100 per cent fly ash utilisation, transportation of coal through closed conveyor belts, preventing discharge of fly ash slurry in Rihand reservoir or any other water courses, installation of effluent and emission monitoring by all industries that have been identified to cause pollution by July this year, installation of continuous air quality monitoring stations by operating industries at their own cost by September.

What the committee ignored

Given the severity of the pollution in the area, the committee report appears to go soft on industries. Though the report highlighted some of the pollution concerns, several important matters barely find mention. The committee says that because of time limitation the members could not examine ground water pollution, impact of pollution on public health and crops, toxic impact on the environment, particularly with reference to mercury pollution. They suggested that a systemic and holistic study needs to be undertaken in this regard. The committee specifically mentions the need of study on human health impacts caused by groundwater contamination, air pollution and mercury pollution.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says considerable studies have been done which indicate acute pollution problems and associated health impacts  in the region, including mercury poisoning. The need of the hour is action, he adds. Responding to community concerns about public health impacts of industrial pollution, CSE had carried out a study on pollution in Sonbhadra district between May to August 2012. The study found various levels of heavy metal pollution in the area, including fluoride, mercury and lead, which were found to be higher than the permissible limits. Of particular concern was mercury pollution in the area—average concentrations of mercury in human blood was noted to be 34.30 parts per billion (ppb), far exceeding the 5.8 ppb safe standard set by the United States Environment Protection Agency.  More than 84 per cent of the blood samples were found to contain mercury above the safe level. CSE recommended the setting of mercury standards for coal-based thermal plants, coal washeries and mining in the country. According to Bhushan, the states need to redevelop their action plans, taking into account mercury pollution and its impacts.

Comprehensive action plan needed

The report of the committee notes that the action plan in place for the area is being implemented by both state pollution control boards. However, officials of MPPCB consider that industrial activities and associated pollution problems of the area are more on the Uttar Pradesh side than in Madhya Pradesh, and therefore, action on part of the UPPCB is of greater import.

Akolkar, though, emphasises more on the regional nature of the problem. “The pollution problem in the area should be assessed on a regional basis to take effective measures,” says Akolkar.  He says that a comprehensive action plan needs to be developed for the area, taking both Singrauli and Sonbhadra into consideration. The dispersal of pollutants needs to be monitored and modelled appropriately for developing such approach. The committee has also recommended an assessment of the environmental carrying capacity of the region to consider future development projects.

The case is to be next heard at NGT on March 31.