The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has deferred the proposal for the 1,600-MW Uppur thermal power plant in Ramanathapuram district, which could lead to a delay in its commissioning.

According to the minutes of the 42 meeting of the reconstituted expert appraisal committee (thermal) of MoEF held early in February, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) had failed to identify environmentally acceptable alternative sites to the Uppur thermal power plant. This is required for determining terms of reference for environment clearance.

In her speech in the Assembly last week, the Chief Minister had announced a timeline for various power projects in the State and had said the terms of reference for the 1,600-MW Uppur power plant was pending with the MoEF and the plant would be commissioned by the end of 2015. However, the committee's decision to defer the proposal for re-consideration at a later stage could lead to a delay.

The company, a subsidiary of TNEB, has sought environmental clearance for its 2x800 MW super critical coal based thermal power plant at villages Uppur, Valamayoor and Thiruppalaikudi in Thiruvadanai taluk in Ramanathapuram district.

At the meeting, the proposal was to be considered for determination of terms of reference for undertaking EIA/EMP study as per the provisions of EIA Notification, 2006. The project proponent gave a presentation in which it said the land requirement would be 1,200 acres. It gave details of coal requirements, water requirements and generation of fly ash. It was also submitted that there were no national parks, wildlife sanctuaries or tiger or biosphere reserves within 10 km of the site. However, the Committee observed that the project proponent had not identified other environmentally acceptable alternative sites as required and had come up only with the present site. The Committee also noted that toposheet of the site or satellite imagery of appropriate resolution was not made available.

Meanwhile, the State's Environment and Forests Department, agreeing to the measures and conditions imposed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, has granted permission for establishment of a 600-MW coal-based thermal power project stage–III in the Mettur thermal power station.

Apart from the requirements as required by the MoEF, the unit would have to increase the capacity of effluent treatment plant, evolve methods of disposal of ash as per the Fly Ash Notification 1999 as amended and improve emission control measures so as to achieve the standard of 50 mg/Nm3 to adhere with the environmental clearance issued.

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