Amid NGT riders, Adani UPCL revives expansion bid

Last Updated 29 August 2019, 19:23 IST

Adani UPCL is back with its request to expand the thermal plant near Udupi by adding two additional 800 MW units, three months after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled that the environmental clearance given to the existing plant itself was “unauthorised and illegal”.

On August 12, Adani Udupi Power Corporation Limited (Adani UPCL) wrote to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, seeking terms of reference (ToR) for the expansion of the project. The request letter, a copy of which is available with DH, was sent less than a month before the NGT is set to take up the case.

Noting that the original environment clearance for the plant was “illegal and void”, the NGT had in March observed, “Justifiably, therefore, directions would be called for to remove the plant and order for restoration of the area and the environment.”

The court chose to allow the plant to function by imposing Rs 5-crore fine on UPCL — taken over by Adani Power in 2015 — with the condition that there shall be “no further activities in respect of the proposal for expansion”.

The NGT also suspended a clearance for expansion given by the ministry in 2017.

It said, “We direct that there shall be no further activities in respect of the proposal for expansion” until the company carried out an additional Environment Impact Assessment study and met four conditions.

The conditions include a direction to the government to get a report on the carrying capacity of the area, study the baseline data to assess the potential effect of the expansion on the environment.

The tribunal had cited a technical study showing “alarming observations” that the mismanagement of environment had seriously affected productivity of crops as well as animals in the vicinity.

The NGT is expected to resume hearing on September 4. While most of the components of the proposal are similar to the one which received clearance in 2017 and suspended later, the company has given an undertaking that it would comply with the NGT directions. Adani UPCL president and executive director Kishore Alva, when contacted by DH, refused to comment.

The thermal plant has seen protests since the days of its inception in 2003-2004. The resistance was so strong that NTPC gave up on the project. Later, Nagarjuna Power Corporation and Lanco Infratech, which handled the plant, faced opposition all along.

(Published 29 August 2019, 19:21 IST)

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