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NGT suspends expansion of thermal plant

The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi, has ordered the suspension of the Environmental Clearance of August 1, 2017, granted for the expansion of the thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd. (UPCL) at Yellur in Udupi district by addition of 2 x 800 MW units to raise ultimate capacity to 2,800 MW.

The copies of the order of the tribunal issued on March 14, along with a press note, were released here on Friday by Balakrishna Shetty, executive president, Nandikur Janajagrithi Samithi, an NGO, which has been opposing the thermal power plant at Yellur in Udupi district. The tribunal held that clearances granted for the setting up of the power plant were illegal. The tribunal invoked the “Polluter Pays” principle and appointed a Committee of Experts to ascertain damage to crops and environment in the area. This committee shall assess the damage on account of environmental violations in the areas of fly ash management, ash pond, ambient air quality and fugitive emissions, which had damaged the environment and ecology and submit its report in three months. Awaiting this report, the tribunal directed UPCL to pay Rs. 5 crore as interim environmental compensation to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The compensation would be subject to the assessment of final damages by the Committee of Experts. It directed the State government to conduct a study of carrying capacity of the area. It also ordered the company to pay Rs. 1 lakh as cost to the petitioners.

The thermal plant project was challenged in 2004 by the samithi before the then National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA), New Delhi. The appeal was dismissed by the sole non-judicial adjudicator. It then filed a Writ Petition before the High Court of Karnataka in 2005. The Bellibettu Alade Devasthana and CSI St. Luke’s Church also filed Writ Petitions before the High Court.

The cases were transferred to the National Green Tribunal, South Zone, Chennai, in 2012. Due to the lack of judges in the Zonal Tribunal at Chennai, the cases were finally heard by the Principal Bench at New Delhi, the release said.

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