The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday quashed the environmental clearance for the 3,600-MW thermal power plant proposed by IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Limited in Cuddalore, on the grounds that no proper cumulative impact assessment was done.
The NGT, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, held that the cumulative impact assessment of the project was conducted on the basis of incomplete information and “non-existent” standards, and the Ministry of Environment and Forests granted clearance without application of mind, said Ritwick Dutta, lawyer for the appellants. The clearance, given on May 31, 2010, was challenged by local residents.
Mr. Dutta said the NGT stayed the environmental clearance on May 23, 2012, and ordered a cumulative impact assessment. However, the assessment was conducted within two weeks without any baseline data. A large number of projects in the area were not considered. The standards used for the entire study were the “non-existent” National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) 2005. The relevant standards were NAAQS 2009, which replaced the NAAQS 1998. On the basis of these findings, the NGT held that the cumulative environmental impact assessment was inadequate and erroneous.“Casual approach”
The NGT was also critical of the “casual approach” of the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Mr. Dutta said. It ordered “a fresh review of the environmental clearance on the basis of a fresh cumulative impact assessment study.”