The Centre’s green panel has rejected environment clearance to Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (UPRVUNL) for expansion of its coal-based power project in Kanpur district citing pollution concerns.
The state-run UPRVUNL has proposed setting up of a 660 mw coal-based super-critical power plant at Panki in Kanpur district. Its existing plant has a capacity of 210 mw.
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Environment Ministry discussed the proposal in detail in a recent meeting.
“Despite the fact that the proposed expansion would have relatively lesser impacts in comparison to the existing old plant, considering that Kanpur (including Panki) is existing critically polluted area and presence of dense population surrounding the plant site, the EAC is of the view that the Project Proponent may explore alternate electricity generation options (gas-based or solar) in the proposed location,” according to the minutes of the EAC meeting.
The EAC also asked UPRVUNL to explore alternative locations for the proposed coal-based power project, while also recommended both Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to take immediate action to ensure that the existing power plant is complying to the emission and effluent standards, it said.
The panel noted that Kanpur (includes Panki) is a critically polluted area, although moratorium has been lifted for consideration of projects for environment clearance.
Since the establishment of the Panki Power Project, the area surrounding it has become heavily populated with several lakh populations residing near the plant site, it added.
Stating that it has received several representations from the local population against the proposed project, the EAC said during the public hearing a large number of participants had repeatedly brought the harmful environmental impacts of the existing unit, particularly the ash problem.
“However, in response to these repeated complaints, the project proponent had merely stated to each participant that with the new technologies envisaged for the proposed units, the ash problem would be taken care of,” the minutes said.
Considering that the new units would take a minimum of four years to commission, and with no definite time frame for closure of the existing units, the EAC said “it implied that the ash problem would continue for many more years.”
Though existing units (with 210 mw capacity) would be phased out, capacity of expansion unit (660 mw) will be nearly three times the capacity of units to be phased out, it added.