NGT forms expert panel to probe Ennore ecological damage- The New Indian Express

River covered in fly ash generated by the North Chennai Thermal Power Station

CHENNAI: A day after the Ennore ‘ecology’ carnage was raised in Parliament, the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted a scientific committee of experts to investigate the illegal dumping of fly ash by the North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) and its adverse effect on local ecology.

Sultan Ahmed Ismail, soil biologist and director of Ecoscience Research Foundation, D Narasimhan, professor and former HoD of Botany in Madras Christian College, Balaji Narasimhanand, IIT Madras professor and Elangovan, PWD executive engineer, were appointed as committee members.

The bench, comprising Justice P Jyothimani and expert member PS Rao, has outrightly expressed displeasure over the functioning of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) in disposing of the fly ash generated by its thermal power plants. “After taking into consideration the reports submitted by the advocate commissioners appointed by the tribunal, we are of the view that TANGEDCO has failed to take appropriate measures to safely dispose of the fly ash produced by NCTPS. The water bodies in Ennore are found to have a high degree of ash sediments posing serious environmental issues. The mangrove cover has been damaged,” the bench said in the order on Friday.

Even though TANGEDCO counsel Abdul Saleem has submitted that the department was making sincere efforts to remove the fly ash and presented an action taken report, the bench said it was not satisfied.
The tribunal has dictated terms of reference for the committee, which should be the focus of its scientific investigation and find remedial measures and methodology for the restoration. The committee was directed to submit a report by September 15 and posted the case to September 18.

Key aspects to be investigated

  • Location of ash ponds, and steps taken to avoid leakages

  • Quantity of the fly ash generated by the units since their inception

  • Quantity of fly ash discharged, dumped in water bodies, mainly Kosasthalaiyar river and Buckingham canal

  • Environmental impact of the dumping

  • Effect on flora and fauna, biodiversity, effects on rare and endangered species, habitat loss, alteration of land use, water pollution, effect on ground water, hydrology and percolation of hazardous waste into soil

  • Methodology of remediation

  • Utilisation of ash as per government  notifications

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