A thermal power plant in Uttar Pradesh, run by Bajaj group's Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd, has come under the scanner of National Green Tribunal which has ordered an inspection into the impact of water extracted by it on farming in the area.
The green panel's direction came in the wake of a petition challenging the environmental clearance granted to the thermal power project on the ground that it violated the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974.
Lalitpur Power Generation Co Ltd (LPGCL) had signed an agreement with the UP government in 2010 to set up 1980 MW (3 units of 660 MW each) super-critical thermal power plant in Lalitpur district between the banks rivers Sajnam and Utari.
A bench headed by NGT Chaiperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the panel to submit a report on whether excessive water extraction by LPGCL had impacted agricultural productivity in the area, but refused to quash environmental clearance to the plant.
"A team of officers from the Environment and Forests Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board, UP Pollution Control Board and UP's Irrigation Department would conduct an inspection and ensure that temporary abstraction of water from the Buragaon Check Dam is permitted without any adverse effect either on the agricultural activities or upon recharging of the ground water...
"The Committee shall also submit a report to the Tribunal that if unauthorised or even excessive drawal of water by the Project Proponent has caused loss of agricultural productivity to the dependent farmers, then extent of compensation payable to them," the bench said.
The green panel directed the power plant to complete the pipeline from Rajghat minor canal to the project site "at the earliest and in any case, not later than three months".
It also made it clear that once the pipeline is completed, the project proponent will not be permitted to draw any water from any of the check dam on river Sajnam.
The Tribunal was hearing a plea of UP resident Mohar Singh Yadav seeking quashing of environmental clearance granted to the plant, alleging that LPGCL could not have extracted water directly from the river or the check dams which were primarily meant for agricultural purposes.
Yadav had contended that the project proponent had violated the condition in environmental clearance that "no water bodies (including natural drainage system) in the area shall be disturbed due to activities associated with the setting up/operation of the power plant".
"In the year 2013, the residents and the farmers of the area noticed some type of construction activity in the river. However, they believed that these construction activities were being done for some irrigation purpose by the UP government.
"But, to the utter surprise of the local inhabitants, more particularly the agriculturists, somewhere in the month of April and June of 2014, the power plant demolished the government made check dam, constructed over the said rivers with the illegal and mala-fide motives for diverting the flow of water towards its own power plant," Yadav claimed in his plea.