New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the constitution of a panel to examine the environmental damage that could result from converting Tata Power's 500MW Unit 6 at its Trombay power plant from an oil-based plant to a coal-fired one. The three-member committee will comprise representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kanpur. In the order passed by the tribunal on February 27, it had informed the committee to submit its report by June 30.
Conservation Action Trust, led by green activists Ashok Khatri and Debi Goenka, had challenged the environmental clearance granted to the conversion in 2014. Their main contention was that Tata Consultancy Services, which is not an independent organisation, performed the environment impact assessment (EIA).
The activists also protested that no public hearing was held, saying that even though the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) had undertaken a further review, it is not a substitute for a separate EIA.
Instead of proceeding with exhaustive hearing, a separate carrying-capacity study on the plant's land, water and air was required, they said. They added that compared to oil, coal is a polluting fuel and also produces fly ash.
Chembur and its adjoining areas are the 46th most polluted industrial cluster in India, according to CPCB.
However, Tata Power has sought the conversion, while pointing out Mumbai's energy security — operating a power plant on liquid fuels such as Naphtha and furnace oil costs around Rs 8-10/unit, whereas running a plant on coal, even if imported, costs up to Rs 4/unit.