How a panel okayed expansion of a non-existent project

How a panel okayed expansion of a non-existent project

Forum exposes firm's dubious means to get approval

The Expert Appraisal Committee on Thermal Power and Coal Mine Projects, earlier considering expansion by an addition of 1x300 MW (Phase-II) Barge Mounted Gas Based Combined Cycle Power Plant of GMR Energy Limited at Tannirbavi near Panambur in Mangalore, has raised fears about how these vital committees are easily misled.

GMR Energy, which was functional at Tannirbavi till March 16, 2010, was compelled to relocate to Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, following intense protests from the fishing community for flouting various environmental rules and regulations.

Renewal refused
Further, on July 6, 2010, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board had refused to renew the Consent for Operation to GMR Energy Limited for its 220-MW barge mounted plant in Tannirbavi “since the unit is not existing,” which was confirmed by an inspection of the site by its regional office.

Yet, the Committee blindly considered the expansion plan of the company during its 30th meeting on August 8-9, 2011 in New Delhi, based on the presentation made by the company on January 10-11.

However, the Committee, which was alerted at the right time, has now decided that the earlier Terms of Reference shall be rescinded and stand cancelled, only to be reviewed at a later stage.

Hence, if the company is still interested to pursue its proposal, it will have to start from scratch and this time, it will be looked at more critically.

The consideration by the Committee to the proposal for expansion of the unit perplexed the Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development as to how the expansion of a non-existent project can be considered.

False information
This reaffirmed the Forum’s suspicion that the project proponents had furnished false information and deliberately misled the Committee and thus the Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) too.

The Forum complained to the MoEF that the Committee was kept in the dark and vital information had been suppressed when the company presented its proposal to the Committee.

With this, the matter was again put up before the Committee for its views. The Committee noted that prima facie there was a lot more information concealed and the matter needed detailed deliberation. In the meantime, it was decided that the project proponent shall conduct literature survey and furnish guidelines and experiences for such projects across the globe, while also carrying out a detailed study on the impact due to anchorage of barge, fugitive oil and greasy matter spills on marine ecology.

The Committee said that the study shall also take into account other likely adverse impacts due to anchorage of Barge mounted power plant which may indirectly or directly affect the ecology on the land surrounding the barge.

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