MoEF to reconsider Chhattisgarh plant

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 1 2010, 03:46am hrs
In a turnaround, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), after putting down a proposal for a 2400-mw coal-based power plant by Jindal Power in Chattisgarh just over a month ago, has decided to reconsider the project. The ministry has directed that the proposal be brought before the expert committee on thermal and coal-based power projects and has scheduled a meeting for August 9 and 10.

Letters written by the ministry to the Chattisgarh government on June 18 (the plant is supposed to come up in Chattisgarh) and to Jindal Power on the same date, had earlier clearly stated that the company had violated the procedure laid down for clearance of power projects by starting construction work in on the ground before clearances were granted.

The company had reportedly started construction of the new power plant at the site of an earlier one in Raigarh, sanctioned earlier. The ministry had sent an investigative team to the area to verify the complaints received from civil society groups and had found them to be true. Citing section 19 of the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, the ministry had directed the Chattisgarh government to take action against the company and had scrapped the proposal. The team (sent by the MoEF) inspected the site on May 22, 2010, and found that M/s Jindal Power had gone ahead with the construction of a power plant at a site where the ministry had earlier accorded environmental clearance for a 4X250 mw power plant, said the letter addressed to the Chattisgarh government.

Following this, on June 21, 2010, the ministry had nixed the project. The hearing before the expert committee for reconsidering the terms of referrence of the project have therefore, come as a surprise to civil society groups. The ministrys website has officially announced the review.