Nagpur: The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) continues to neglect norms set by its governing body — the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC).
The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (Mahagenco) was given permission to start operating two new units at Koradi thermal power expansion project some time back, ignoring the lack of flue gas desulphuriser (FGD), which is mandatory. Now, permission has been given to start the third unit too, thus permitting operation of entire project without the mandatory FGD.
The Koradi expansion project comprises three units with installed generation capacity of 660MW each for a total of 1,980MW. The project is situated on the city’s outskirts.
Citizens in Godhni, Nari, Nara, Mankapur, Jaripatka and adjoining areas are complaining of a lot of smoke emanating from the projects regularly. However, energy minister Chandrashekar Bawankule, who also resides at Koradi, has reportedly pressurized MPCB to permit operation of new units at Koradi without FGD.
The MPCB’s consent appraisal committee, headed by additional chief secretary Satish Gavai, met on December 16 to permit Mahagenco to operate unit no. 10 at Koradi expansion project. “Consent to unit no. 9 was given on condition of installation of FGD by April 30, 2017. Industry shall obtain clarification/amendment in environmental clearance regarding installation of FGD from MoEFCC within three months by March 31, 2017,” the committee said.
The environmental clearance issued by MoEFCC to the project on January 4, 2010, said that Mahagenco was supposed to install FGD in first of the three new units and start operations. Installation of FGD in remaining two units was to depend on results obtained from the first unit.
Thermal power stations emanate sulphur dioxide (SO2), which can lead to acid rain in adjoining areas. Prolonged exposure to high SO2 level can cause diseases like cancer. Therefore, FGD, a pollution control equipment installed in thermal power plants to reduce SO2 content in emissions, was made mandatory.
“Sufficient space has been left at all three units to install FGD. Process to appoint consultant for planning and executing FGD has been started, “ one official said.
The official further adds,” FGD is not at all required at the plant. Indian coal contains 0.5% sulphur, which is quite low. Still, request has been made to MoEFCC to extend time limit for FGD installation up to December 2017, which is as per new notification. Ambient air quality norms at the project are within the provided limits.”