New Delhi: The CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) has pulled up state-run RINL (Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd) for several lapses in complying with green norms and has said that the steel PSU commenced operations under its expansion programme for raising its capacity from 6.3 to 7.3 Million Tonnes per Annum (MTPA) without obtaining environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. "RINL commenced (October 2013) the enhancement of capacity of Blast Furnace No. 1 through capital repairs without obtaining approval from Central Government. Application to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was submitted belatedly on 30 June 2016 for undertaking detailed Environmental Impact Assessment study for the Project," said the CAG in its report.
The CAG also found that the fact of violation of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 was not disclosed in the proposal for Environmental Clearance application and related documents submitted by RINL in January 2018. Instead, the brief report by Environmental Impact Assessment Consultant stated (3 February 2018) that "as mentioned by RINL, there is no court case or violation under Environmental Impact Assessment Notification for the project or related activity." "Committee considered it as concealing of factual information," said the CAG.
Even though RINL formed a committee in March 2019 to identify the department and officers responsible for this lapse, however, the Committee concluded that this was due to collective miscomprehension of the statutory requirement, as has been responded to by the Ministry. The Committee also mentioned in its Report that heads of Utility Section of Design and Engineering Department who were involved in the process had already separated from the PSU. However, the fact remains that Expansion Project to increase capacity to 7.3 million tonnes per annum was taken up without obtaining Environmental Clearance and no action has been taken on this by RINL, said the CAG.
CAG audit finds higher than stipulated CO, CO2, PM10 emissions
"Abatement of Air Pollution requires emission of certain gases/ substances to be kept within the prescribed norms. Audit noticed higher levels/ emissions of Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Di Oxide (CO2), PM10 when compared with Sustainability Plan targets and norms stipulated by regulatory bodies. There were excess fugitive and charging emissions from Coke Oven Batteries. RINL had not rebuilt its older Coke Oven Batteries as required under Charter on Corporate Responsibility for Environment Protection, 2003," said the CAG.
The CAG said that it noticed PM2.5 was monitored at only three locations, all within the plant area and was not monitored in any of the locations outside the Plant area. The station installed at Coke and Coal Chemicals Department, Appikonda consistently monitored only PM10.
"PM2.5 was monitored in all the months at Bala Cheruvu Gate and only during 2017-18 and 2018-19 at the main gate. It was, however, monitored only for a few months during the entire three years ended 31 March 2020 at Coke and Coal Chemicals Department, Appikonda," said the CAG.
"SO2 was within the norms at all the monitored stations. It was, however, not monitored at Coke and Coal Chemicals Department, Appikonda during 2018-19 and 2019-20," it added.
NO2 was within the norm at all the monitored stations. NO2 was not monitored at Coke and Coal Chemicals Department, Appikonda during 2018-19 and 2019-20 and at Bala Cheruvu Gate during 2019-20, said the audit report.
Further, emissions data from Online Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems was not reliable due to non-upgradation of obsolete Online Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems, said the CAG.
"Specific energy consumption in the plant and overall fuel consumption rate in Blast Furnaces were in excess of the targets stipulated in RINL's Sustainability Plan leading to release of excessive Green House Gases. On water pollution front also, effluents discharged by plants of RINL were in excess of the norms stipulated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change," the audit found.
Non-utilisation of fly ash caused water, air, land pollution
"Usage of high ash content boiler coal in Thermal Power Plant for power generation led to generation of higher quantities of fly ash. Non-utilisation of this fly ash in line with the Notifications issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change led to water, air and land pollution. There has been accumulation of Blast Furnace/ Steel Melting Shop slags leading to air and land pollution," said the CAG.
Pulling up state government authorities for their failure to take note of these lapses, the CAG said, "It was also noticed that Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board failed to arrest the continuous non-compliance by RINL to the norms stipulated by regulatory authorities with reference to emissions, flaring of gases, installation of equipment, generation of hazardous waste in excess of authorisation, etc. and take necessary action during various inspections of the plant."