NGT tells NTPC to pay Rs 58L over environment damage

NGT directs NTPC to pay Rs 58 lakh for damaging environment in Uttarakhand

NGT noted that NTPC is operating Tapovan Vishnugad hydro power project and has set up 5 muck disposal dumping sites

Maxar's WorldView-1 satellite image shows a closer view of vehicles at the National Thermal Power Corporation's (NTPC) under-construction Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower plant project along the Dhauliganga River in the Uttarakhand region of India in the aftermath of glacial collapse and flash flood, February 9, 2021. Picture taken February 9, 2021. Credit: Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

The National Green Tribunal has dismissed the plea by NTPC seeking a review of the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (PCB) order imposing a penalty of Rs 57.96 lakh on the power company for damaging the environment.

The NGT Principal bench headed by its Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that the slope of the muck dumped at its Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project in Chamoli was hazardously double the standards with potential for erosion. There were deficiencies found in maintaining muck dumping sites.

NTPC is operating the Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project and has set up 5 muck disposal dumping sites out of which three were completed 3-5 years ago while two are still active and operational.

However, state PCB found deficiencies in these sites and imposed Rs 57,96,000 fine on NTPC under the polluter pays principle for the restoration of the environment.

While asking state PCB to utilise the fine amount for the restoration of the environment, the Bench observed that "Erosion was already seen in terms of gully formation in down streams of the muck dumps. Thus, it is clear that the operative muck disposal sites were not being maintained as per the Ministry of Environment and Forests laid down norm."

"In view of the above, there is no merit in the appeal as 'Polluter Pays' principle has been rightly invoked for damage to the environment. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed. The amount of compensation which may be recovered by the state pollution control board may be utilised for restoration of the environment," the tribunal said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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