Major blow to Adani's Udupi power project; NGT declares clearances granted to set up plant are illegal

coastaldigest.com news network
March 16, 2019

Udupi, Mar 16: In a major blow to Adani's Udupi Power Plant project at Yellur village of Udupi district, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal declared on 14" March 2019 that all the clearances granted to set up the power plant are illegal. It has also ordered the suspension of the Environmental Clearance dated 1.08.2017 granted to expand the plant by addition of 2x800MW units to raise ultimate capacity to 2800MW. The Tribunal invoked the "Polluter Pays" principle and appointed a committee of experts to ascertain the damages to the crops and the environment in general of the area. It has directed the Company to pay 5 crores as an interim environmental compensation to CPCB who will also be the Nodal agency to study the damages caused. It has also ordered the Company to pay Rs. 1 lakh as cost to the Petitioners.

The Tribunal found that genuinely serious issues raised by the villagers and the Applicants had not been given the due attention it observed by all concerned including the Government. The fact that multitudes of disputes and litigations relating to the project had been instituted bears witness to the fact that all was not well. Environmental clearance dated 20.03.1997 had been granted without following the due process statutorily prescribed and mandatorily required to be followed. Extension of the validity period of the EC had been granted on 16.04.2002 at the request of the project proponent as work could not be commenced within the 5 years' period stipulated in the EC. This is without authority of law. On 05.10.2004 the EC was cancelled by the Ministry as the project proponent had still not commenced with the work of the project. This order of cancellation was recalled vide a personal letter dated 31.01.2005 by the Director MOEF under questionable circumstances at the request of the project proponent.

The Tribunal pointed out that the procedures laid down under the EIA Notifications are not mere formalities to be followed but have been prescribed to ensure that the environment is duly protected while taking up a project keeping in view the Precautionary Principle and the principle of Sustainable Development. The fact that the procedures prescribed in the Notification were not at all followed except few parts of it, lead it to reasonably conclude that there has been damage caused to the environment for which consequences have fallen on the people in terms of healtn, decline in the agricultural productivity and, therefore, their livelihood, degradation of natural habitat of birds and animals, etc.

Tribunal took a serious note of the study carried out on "Environmental Profile and People's Livelihood aspects in the vicinity of Coal Based Thermal Power Plant at Yellur Panchayat, Udupi District" by a group of Scientists as CES Technical Report 126 dated April 2012 published by the Energy & Wetland Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has made alarming observations in respect of the project area during field investigations. It has been observed that mismanagement of the environment was evident from the contamination of the water (surface and ground), soil and air apart from the impaired functional aspects of the biotic elements. This was deduced from the reduced productivity of grains, jasmine flower and horticultural produce, reproductive ability of livestock, poultry animals, etc. There was dust on the leaves during the dry seasons which induced phyto-toxicity leading to poor pollination and hence reduced productivity. There was reduction in the population of pollinators. Stunted growth of saplings and enhanced respiratory diseases, etc. were noticed caused by release of saline mist from the cooling towers of the plant which is locally dispersed by the wind even up to 2 kms.

The Tribunal found the conduct of the MoEF&CC in the entire episode does not appear to be above board. The Tribunal expresses grave anguish and concern which in its view ought to be corrected and left it upon the MoEF&CC to deal with this aspect as their wisdom may dictate.

The Tribunal observed that justifiably, therefore, the directions would be called for to remove the plant and order for restoration of the area and the environment. However, considering the facts and circumstances, the lapse of time and the fait accompli situation that has arisen, we are of the view that the interest of public will not be served in passing such order. The need of the hour is to explore such measures and steps that would mitigate the harm already caused in addition to ensuring that the plant operates strictly within the environmental norms. It has thus invoked the "Polluter Pays" principle under Section 20 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 and hold M/s. Udupi Power Corporation Ltd., the Respondent No. 5, project proponent, liable to pay Environmental Compensation which shall bg assessed by a Committee of Experts. It has constituted a Committee comprising of- 1. Senior Scientist, CPCB. 2. Senior Representative, IIT Chennai. 3. Senior Scientist, IIT Bangalore. CPCB shall be the nodal agency to coordinate amongst the Members for taking up the task.

The Committee shall assess the environmental damage on account of the environmental violations and submit its report within three months. Awaiting such report, it directed UPCL to pay an interim Environmental Compensation of k5 crores with the CPCB. The interim compensation would be subject to assessment of final damages by the Committee of Experts. This amount shall be deposited within a period of one month from hence. The CPCB, in the meanwhile, shall utilize the interim compensation for restitution and remedial works for restitution of the environment including the possible plight of the people affected by the plant. It has made it clear that this amount shall be distinct from the other obligations of UPCL under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or other obligations.

The project was challenged as early as in 2004 by the Samithi before the then National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA), New Delhi. The appeal was dismissed by the sole non-judicial adjudicator who was formerly the Secretary, MOEF responsible earlier for the grant of the very Environmental Clearance. Aggrieved by the decision, the Samithi filed WP before the Karnataka High Court in 2005. Bellibettu Alade Devasthana and CSI St. Luke's Church also filed separate Writ Petitions before the High Court. The cases were transferred to the National Green Tribunal South Zone, Chennai in 2012 under the Supreme Court order. Due to the lack of Judges in Zonal Tribunal at Chennai the cases were finally heard by the Principal Bench at New Delhi and the judgement was released on 14th March 2019. The State of Karnataka actually does not need power from the plant and Govt has either stopped or considerably reduced receiving the supply from UPCL. The Energy Dept website show that as on 31.07.2018 the total generation of power from various sources has increased to 27,176.43 MW out of which 4,713.26 MW is Wind Energy and 5,172.72 MW is Solar among others. The website also shows that the available potential of the Renewable Energy totals to 86,792MW of which Wind Energy is 55,857MW and Solar 24,700MW. With such RE potential the killer coal-based power plants are not at all required in the State leave alone in the sensitive Ecologically Coastal Zone.

As such the State Govt is required to issue directions to UPCL to shut it down and shift it to another place perhaps another country like Bangladesh. It has also come to the knowledge of the Samithi that UPCL is now planning new Transmission Lines to supply power to other State perhaps through the grid at Kerala. It would only mean that we would be used as sacrificial lambs for the Company and this will not be acceptable.

Comments

jaleel
 - 
Monday, 18 Mar 2019

Now even the plant is shut, it's the public who are at lose. Govt provided public money to Mota bhai to set up this plant. Coorporate sect always play with public life, money. They keep people busy in fake and unwanted issues and politicians prepare grounds for all these nuisance. Tuticorn in Tamilnadu and likewise many examples are in front of us. This will happen again and again We are fools really. At least for the sake of our next generation we should start thinking like a man not like donkey  

 

 

 

 

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News Network
September 29,2022

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Pressure mounted on the rape accused, jailed Karnataka Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, to step down as the head of Chitradurga Murugha Mutt, amid the demand that new religious pontiff should be anointed in place of accused seer.

The followers and prominent leaders of the Lingayat community held an important meeting in Chitradurga to discuss the future of the historical, cash rich mutt on Thursday.

Making things more complicated, Karnataka High Court has denied permission temporarily to the accused Lingayat seer to put his signatures to cheques. Sources state that as accused seer is not allowed to sign the 200 plus cheques, the activities of the mutt are severely affected and employees are not able to get salaries.

The High Court which took a sympathetic view on employees earlier and it was expected that it would give consent. The mutt has 3,000 branches all over the country and runs more than 150 premier education and other institutes.

In spite of the pressure and demand to step down, the accused seer has categorically refused to quit, according to sources. The meeting was held in the leadership of former minister H Ekantaiah in this regard and discussed future course of action.

The leaders discussed how to retain the legacy, history and heritage of the Chitradurga Mutt as accused seer is refusing to step down. Many leaders had demanded in the meeting to appoint a new swamiji.

In another development, a group of religious seers met the accused Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru at the prison and held important discussion. The details of the meeting have not been made public.

Denying bail to rape accused Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the powerful Lingayat seer of Chitradurga Murugha Mutt, the Second District Additional Sessions Court on Tuesday extended his judicial custody till October 10.

Judge B.K. Komala also extended the judicial custody of accused number two, hostel warden Rashmi till October 10.

The accused seer, whose judicial custody ended on Tuesday, was presented before the court and later after the order, he was taken to the Central Jail of Chitradurga district.

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News Network
September 21,2022

PayCM.jpg

Bengaluru, Sept 21: Amidst massive corruption allegations against Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led Karnataka BJP government, posters with CM’s face on a QR code titled ‘PayCM’ in a few places in Bengaluru drew attention today. 

Interestingly, scanning the QR code will take users to the ‘40 per cent Sarkar’ website launched by the Congress recently.

Last week, controversial billboards targeting Bommai were seen in Hyderabad. Bommai said it was a “conspiracy” and that it could “spoil” ties between Karnataka and Telangana. 

The ‘40 per cent commission’ tagline has got on like a house on fire, putting the BJP government on the back-foot. The figure is an average of all the cuts that the Karnataka State Contractors Association said their members have to pay to officials, elected representatives and ministers. The association wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about this in July last year. 

Congress, which hopes to connect with voters with its campaign, has come up with a website - www.40percentsarkara.com - and a helpline 8447704040 that citizens can use to narrate their experience with corruption. Congress said details of citizens will be kept confidential.

BJP hits back

Meanwhile, the saffron party hit back at the Congress asking them to post a QR code with Rahul Gandhi's photo to beg for the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' alongside an image of Congress workers threatening a vegetable seller in Kollam a few days ago over donations for the party.
 
"A case of Congress workers robbing a vegetable seller in Kerala's Kollam for the Bharat Jodo Yatra came to light. Congressmen, can't you post Rahul Gandhi's photo, create a QR code and beg for the yatra?," the Karnataka BJP tweeted.

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News Network
September 27,2022

Over eighty persons have been detained as raids by the Karnataka state police are under way across the state at the residences of office-bearers and members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its offices under the provision of 'Preventive Action' under the CrPc.

The raids are being conducted under the supervision of Alok Kumar, additional director general of police (AdGP, Law and order).  

Kumar said, "We have detained around 80 persons so far and they will be sent for detention."

All those detained will be produced before the tahasildar and will be remanded to custody.

According to sources, the raids were a preventive measure after the NIA conducted mass raids across the country including in Karnataka.

During the raids, officials seized some documents and are interrogating members. Cases will be registered against anyone found involved in anti-social activities.

Following the raids, PFI members across the state are conducting protests. According to sources, a few PFI leaders have alredy been arrested.

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