Clearance for UPCL expansion project ‘illegal,’ says NGT
Udupi: The principal bench of the National Green Tribunal at New Delhi has declared “illegal” all clearances granted to proposed expansion of coal-based thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL).
The corporation has proposed to expand its installed capacity by setting up two plants of 800 MW each. The Tribunal has ordered the suspension of the environmental clearance dated August 8, 2017 granted for the expansion. The UPCL generates 1,200 MW and had planned to scale the production to 2,800 MW by setting up additional units. The NGT has directed UPCL to deposit Rs 5 crore with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as environmental compensation also ordered payment of Rs one lakh as cost to the petitioner – Janajagriti Samithi.
It has also directed the state government to conduct the carrying capacity study. The Tribunal invoked the “Polluter Pays” principle and appointed a committee of experts to ascertain the damages caused to the crops and the environment in general of the area. The CPCB will be the nodal agency to assess the damage.
The NGT noted that the “genuinely serious” issues raised by the villagers and petitioner had not been given due attention by the concerned authorities including the government.
It noted that environmental clearance had been granted without following due process prescribed by the law.
The Tribunal pointed out that the procedures laid down under the environment impact assessment notifications were not mere formalities to be followed but have been prescribed to ensure that the environment is duly protected while taking up a project.