Ashish Roy & Manka Behl, Times News Network Apr 20 2017
How can the agency which is alleged to have doctored the data be asked to conduct an enquiry on the irregularities of Koradi Thermal Power Station (KTPS) is the question raised by environmentalists from all over the country.
Responding to a complaint filed with Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by activist Ankita Shah, the Maharahstra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has been asked to conduct an enquiry into the matter. However, the MPCB itself has been turning a blind eye to the air pollution caused by KTPS.
The Mahagenco, which operates the Koradi unit, says MPCB is the only authority which can check for pollution levels. The air quality monitoring data are unbelievably lower than the set parameters.
For an impartial enquiry, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) should send a technical team from Delhi to monitor levels of emission from KTPS, said Debi Goenka, executive trustee of Conservation Action Trust which also did a study on thermal power plants of the country. “The CPCB which does not have any vested interest should send a team comprising multi-disciplinary members which should also check the equipments and sensors. The sensors to monitor ambient air should be placed as per the wind direction,” he added.
Another top environmentalist preferring anonymity told TOI that there was no point in asking MPCB to conduct an enquiry. “This agency has turned a blind eye to pollution being done by Koradi and Khaparkheda power plants. How can it be trusted with the job? NEERI or a laboratory accredited by National Board of Accreditation of Laboratories (NABL) should be asked to do third party inspection,” he said.
The environmentalist further said that manual sampling process as specified by CPCB and Environment Protection Agency of United States government should be done. “The investigating agency should not rely on electronic data,” he added.
He also said that National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered MPCB to do a cumulative impact study of the power plants in Nagpur district. “It had also ordered the government to specify norms for radioactivity. Both directives have not been followed,” he added.
Hyderabad-based environmentalist Sagar Dhara said that powers of monitoring pollution should be taken away from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board(MPCB) and handed over to local bodies like gram panchayats, zilla parishads and municipalities. “Their officers should be trained in use of pollution monitoring equipment. These people live close to the polluting units and they will better understand the impact of pollution. The state PCBs are anti-environment and anti-people. They have failed completely in their task,” he told TOI.
Dhara also said that setting up a power plant just 10km from Nagpur made no sense at all. “People of Nagpur are going to suffer due to the power plants close by. They are a big health hazard. They also pollute groundwater and water bodies,” he added.
He further said that until acceptable environmental impact standards are formulated no new power plants or capacity expansion of existing plants should be sanctioned in future.
THE GREY AREAS
* Nitin Wagh, chief engineer (environment) of Mahagenco, says SO2 levels over 200 micrograms/NM3 but data shows it to be between 5 and 12 micrograms/NM3
* As per MoEF norms SO2 levels should be less than 200 micrograms/NM3. If they are between 5 and 12 micrograms/NM3 then there is no need for a flue gas desulphuriser (FGD) costing Rs400 crore
* Mahagenco should upload the data of air quality monitoring on its website. This is not being done