The National Green Tribunal has asked the environment ministry to notify all wetlands in the country to avoid developmental projects in its vicinity as it suspended environment clearance to the thermal power plant in Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh.
In an order issued on Wednesday, the tribunal also asked the ministry to finalise the guidelines and site criteria for Thermal Power Plants urgently. The tribunal had found that the existing guidelines had failed to take note of factors that affect the environment and ecology today.
“It is pertinent to note that the siting criteria produced before us were framed 25 years ago,” the tribunal said, while hearing petitions by six locals against the 2,640 MW thermal power plant of Nagarajuna Construction Company.
The appellants in the case had alleged that the proposed project site was a wetland not suitable for commercial use. It will adversely affect irrigation schemes of the area and lead to scarcity of drinking water and fishing. They also said the project will stop farmers from growing seasonal crops and vegetables, and destroy a breeding area for migratory birds.
The petitioners also contended that the environment ministry didn’t consider objections raised by a majority of those affected.
The project proponents, however, said such claims were baseless and the site was not a notified wetland. The ministry said the project was cleared after taking into account all environmental aspects.
The tribunal said that another opportunity should be provided to locals to express their views on the project and, till then, the approval should remain suspended.
The tribunal also suspended environment clearance to the 1,200 MW thermal power plant in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu.