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Citing an Express report on a coal mine, the NGT establishes a deadline for repair and a fee.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given a four-month deadline for remedial efforts and damage recovery from the Kulda coal mine operated by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) in Odisha and the Tamnar thermal plant managed by Jindal Power Limited (JPL) in Chhattisgarh.

The Deccan Era reported on February 4, 2022, on six major projects for which, between 2004 and 2020, severe clearance standards to compensate for the high environmental effect were circumvented, ignored, or met only on paper. Lower Subansiri and Dibang hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh, the Ken-Betwa River Link in Madhya Pradesh, the Mopa international airport in Goa, the Kulda coal mine in Odisha, and the Tamnar thermal plant in Chhattisgarh were the projects.

In its order dated January 12, the NGT gave Odisha and Chhattisgarh four months to:

Rebuild the Kulda-Tamnar road quickly to cut down on dust pollution and, if necessary, get MCL and JPL to pay for it in equal parts.

Determine and recover compensation based on the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle for infractions committed in the past by MCL and JPL, and

Provide a timetable for the installation of a conveyor belt and rail connection to carry coal from Kulda to Tamnar.

Since 2014, three extensions have been given to the Kulda mine and five temporary concessions have been given to the Tamnar plant on the promise that there would be other ways to transport coal. In March 2022, the NGT initiated proceedings in the matter after taking suo motu cognizance of an Deccan Era report on coal trucks plying through villages from Kulda to Tamnar.

People who live in villages along the road that connects Kulda and Tamnar have complained to different authorities many times over the years about an increase in respiratory illnesses, contamination of water bodies and cropland, and the resulting loss of productivity and blackening of vegetables and paddy.

In July 2022, a joint committee convened by the NGT to investigate the facts determined that “the charges made in the matter of media report about coal transportation by road…were verified.”

The committee, comprised of representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the state PCBs of Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the regional office of the Environment ministry at Bhubaneshwar, and the district magistrates of Sundergarh (Odisha) and Raipur (Chhattisgarh), documented the daily movement of approximately 700 coal trucks through villages between Kulda and Tamnar, where neither a conveyor belt nor a rail link exist.

Poor road conditions enhanced “whole body vibrations of the coal transportation vehicles and coal dust spills, resulting in significant fugitive road dust during vehicle operation,” according to the report.

It proved that the environmental clearance conditions were broken, which said that coal couldn’t be moved on roads that went through villages and that MCL had to get legal guarantees from its coal customers that they weren’t “using village roads and going through sensitive places like schools, etc.”

The NGT told the heads of the pollution control boards in Odisha and Chhattisgarh that they must appear before the Tribunal on May 15 if they don’t send in a report on what they’ve done by the next hearing date.

In February of last year, the National Green Tribunal took suo motu cognizance of the same report in order to open two further lawsuits concerning the Dibang and Lower Subansiri hydroelectric projects in Arunachal.

 

Nisha

Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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