Activists disrupt hearing on Tata Power’s fuel switch plan

January 16, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 05:00 am IST - Mumbai:

The company plans to switch from gas to coal to fuel its 500 MW unit in Trombay

The public hearing called by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board on Monday to discuss the environmental impact of Tata Power Company’s plan to switch from gas to coal to fuel its 500 MW unit in the Trombay Thermal Power Station was disrupted by activists of all the major political parties in the State.

The officials wrapped up the hearing, claiming it was impossible to conduct the proceedings.

The Tata Power Company has an installed capacity of 1580 MW in its plant in Trombay. The company has planned to switch to low sulphur imported coal from low sulphur fuel oil in one of its units, which has a capacity of 500 MW. At present, the company has two other units of 750 MW combined, running on coal. The company has claimed the move as modernisation of the plant. The Environment Impact Assessment report prepared by the Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd. was to be discussed in the hearing.

All the major parties, including the ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, have opposed the company’s move, claiming it to be an environmental hazard for the people of Chembur, an eastern suburb of the city where the plant is located.

Chembur hosts oil refineries of HPCL, BPCL and a factory of the Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd. The local Congress MLA Chandrakant Handore even threatened to resign if the project moved ahead.

“When the entire world is moving away from coal, the Tatas want to start a coal-based plant. What kind of modernisation is this?” asked Raja Chowghule, former corporator from Shiv Sena.

The hearing broke into a verbal spat among activists of different parties, who barred others from speaking and began shouting slogans against each other and the proposed move. Additional District Magistrate Shivaji Patil stopped the hearing prematurely.

Company’s response

The company in its statement issued later in the day said: “Tata Power is committed to the process of transparent public consultation. The Company would like to once again reassure all its stakeholders that their concerns around pollution and ash disposal have been addressed effectively and there will be no additional emissions beyond controlled levels. The proposed modernisation will help in providing cheaper, reliable and uninterrupted power supply to Mumbai customers.”

Presently, the company has two other units of 750 MW combined, running on coal

Parties say company’s move an environmental hazard for people of Chembur

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