In a significant victory for environmental activists fighting against coal-based thermal plants, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has de-listed two projects in Telangana State, one among them is Bhadradri Thermal Power Station proposed by the Telangana State Power Generation Corporation (TSGENCO) at Manuguru of Kothagudem (erstwhile Khammam) district.
Citing use of sub-critical technology, which goes against the Central Government’s policy mandating only supercritical technology for thermal plants, the ministry, in its latest order, has rejected approval for Bhadradri as well as another plant by a private producer MG Power Projects proposed in Pedaveedu of Nalgonda district. Environmental clearance (EC) for the 270X4 MW Bhadradri project ran into rough weather right since its initiation, when the proposal was referred back to the Ministry of Power for approval of use of sub-critical technology.
The 270 MW plants with sub-critical technology were diverted by BHEL from another project, when the latter had been shelved for lack of coal tie-ups in the aftermath of Supreme Court ordering for cancellation of previous coal block allocations.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Power had granted permission for the project with a rider that the project should be commissioned within the 12th Plan period, which is, before March 2017.
All this had caused delays, and not willing to wait for the EC, the TSGENCO had gone ahead with the construction of the project through BHEL, attracting the ire of environmentalists.
Challenging the construction, Human Rights Forum had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) alleging violation of Environment Act, Air Act and Water Act by the project proponent. After prolonged hearings, the tribunal had asked for a site inspection report by an expert committee from MoEF.
The report had implicated TSGENCO for open violations of the Environment Act, by way of going ahead with the construction without obtaining EC.
After further hearings, the NGT had delivered a landmark judgement acknowledging the violations and recommending penal action against the TSGENCO officials responsible for the same.
On the issue of EC, the court had asked the Expert Appraisal Committee to take a call after site inspection, on whether the environment impact assessment study can be considered for appraisal.
The latest decision by the ministry, citing a 2009 order by the Ministry of Power, has put to rest all the further wrangling about the project.