The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) of Govt.of India accorded Environmental Clearances(EC) to Sompeta Thermal Power Plant (TPP) of Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd (NCC) and Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Plant(TPP) of East Coast Energy Pvt. Ltd (ECE), in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh, based on wrong information, as confirmed by National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) as per details furnished below:
NCC Thermal Power Plant at Sompeta
The NEAA Order dated 14-07-2010, quashing the Environmental Clearance accorded to NCC Thermal Power Plant at Sompeta, categorically stated that the Authority, on inspection to the site, found the land allotted to the project a typical wetland of great ecological importance and a source for water for nearby villagers upon which 3 important Lift-Irrigation Projects of the Govt. depend.
The NEAA also concluded that the report of various agencies including that of sub-committee of EAC was found misleading. Also observed that the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) was also carried away by the reports and reversed its decision of 32 nd Meeting held on 13-14 October 2008. Hence, the Authority concluded that the Environmental Clearance accorded to NCC by MOEF, based on wrong information is bad and thus liable to be quashed.
ECE Thermal Power Plant at Bhavanapadu
The NEAA in its Order dated 30-8-2010 observed that even after leaving 500 acres of land in southern portion, thereby shifting the southern boundary of the facility by 1.35 km, the remaining area (part of which already raised), was still found to be a marshy/wetland except in places showing transitional character. The Authority also observed that various reports in this regard, including that of sub-committee of EAC were found to be incorrect. The EAC and in turn the MOEF has relied on these reports for granting Environmental Clearance for the project ECE at Bhavanapadu
The Authority further observed that as stated by the expert of BHNS and agreed by Dr.Kaul, an internationally renowned expert on Wetlands, elevation of the project site by the project proponent, after the grant of Environmental Clearance, nearly a year ago, has caused irreversible changes in the character of the Wetland. The Authority also observed that progressively these wetlands have been converted for agricultural use and at least 10% in the locality has since been converted so far including the raised project site and being Ecologically Important, there should be a Total Ban on further conversion.
Concealment and/or submission of false or Misleading Information or Data
The EIA Report in respect of ECE TPP appears to have deliberately suppressed or concealed the information regarding the location of the project in Wetland area and failed to mention the fact of the presence TelineelapuramImportant Bird Area Site ( IBAS) within 2.5 Km from the project site.
With regard to ecological sensitivity of the area, the certification by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of AP that there are no National Parks, Sanctuary, Elephant/Tiger Reserve, Migratory Path (existing as well as proposed) within 10 Km radius of the project site is nothing but deliberate misleading information and suppression of the fact of the presence of Telineelapuram IBAS- within 2.5 Km from the proposed project site.
The MOEF justified the granting of Environmental Clearance for the ECE Project, in spite of the reservations expressed by the Sub-committee of EAC, saying that Dept. of Environment &Forests , Govt of AP, vide its letter dated 09-02-2009, confirmed that the project site does not fall within Naupada Swamps and there are no conservation sites near the project site. This ignores the fact of the presence of Telineelapuram Important Bird Area Site (IBAS) within 2.5 Km from the project site. and the ground reality that the project site is marshy/wetland. It also ignores the fact that Naupada Swamps is one of the 55 wetlands prioritized for conservation by the AP Forest Department.
It is therefore requested that necessary penal action be considered and initiated in accordance with Sections 15, 17 and 19 of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, against the officials responsible for suppressing the ground realities & submitting incorrect reports in respect of NCC and ECE Projects at Sompeta and Bhavanapadu respectively and the Environmental Clearance granted to ECE Project at Bhavanapadu be cancelled, In accordance with Para 8(vi) of EIA Notification dated 14-09-2006, after giving a personal hearing to the project proponent, and following the principles of natural justice.