The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the formation of another expert committee comprising the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Indian Institute of Technology Madras and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to look into the issue of fly ash dumping in the Ennore creek and ascertain the damage caused to the environment.
“The above committee shall inspect the unit (North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) and ascertain its present status in respect of fly ash disposal, the damage caused to the environment to the area in question and its surrounding, cost of restitution and assess the damage caused to the environment on account of illegal acts committed by the above unit,” the bench comprising Judicial Member K. Ramakrishnan and Expert Member Dr. Nagin Nanda said in their order dated May 20.
The bench said according to the applicants, the situation has not improved, despite an earlier order by the Tribunal in 2017 directing the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company (Tangedco) and the NCTPS to take steps to remediate the area based on the findings of an earlier committee. They were also directed to replace the existing ash pipelines.
Lack of reports
“So far, no further report has been filed in this case either by the Pollution Control Board or by the project proponent regarding further action taken in respect of the present status of disposal of fly ash generated in that unit, remedial measures taken to restore the damage caused to the environment etc.,” the bench observed.
The bench said the CPCB was being given the liberty to co-opt any other person where they feel necessary for the purpose of assessing the compensation and for the course of remedial measures for restoration of damage caused to the environment. In 2017, the Tribunal had constituted a three-member committee of experts and an executive engineer from PWD, that found all samples from the Kosasthalaiyar river, the backwaters and the secondary pond to contain elevated levels of several toxic metals.
The committee also found several discrepancies in managing the fly ash in the unit and its effect on the water bodies and surrounding areas.
The NGT had considered this report and directed the TNPCB and the NCTPS to remediate the area after conducting a proper study. But after receiving no update on the issue, the bench in its current order directed the constitution of another committee to look into the matter.