Making its displeasure clear over casual manner in which the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) handled the coal sampling issue and flouted its order, the National Green Tribunal (West Zone) has issued bailable warrant against MoEF Secretary asking him to remain personally present on April 20 and explain the lapses.
A division bench of NGT, consisting of Justice V R Kingaonkar and Dr Ajay Deshpande while hearing an application filed by social worker Ratnadeep Rangari from Mahadula in Nagpur district of Maharashtra revealing violation of MoEF norm banning use of coal having more than 34% ash content, sought a detailed affidavit from MoEF about coal sampling process conducted confidentially to ascertain quality of coal. The MoEF has been directed to explain control mechanism with regard to its own notification dated January 2, 2014 directing coal and power utilities not to supply and consume coal with more than 34% ash content without benefaction process.
The NGT in its earlier orders had directed MoEF and MPCB to undertake sampling process and had also sought to know in clear terms as to what kind of quality control systems was being operated for the purpose of extraction of coal from the mines, transportation of coal, delivery of coal and use of coal by the industries, including the power plants. In other words, if sub-standard coal is used for generation of power, whether responsibility can be fixed on transporter or end-user or any other agency, the NGT made it clear while asking MoEF and CPCBs of the concerned States, where the coal mines are located to investigate independently.
The MoEF in its earlier affidavit had informed that it had asked Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR) to conduct sampling and submit a confidential report. The CIMFR has been asked to undertake sampling at Lajkura and Lakhanpur at Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, Ghuggus, Mungoli, and Dumrikhurd, Ballarpur mines of WCL and Junadhi and New Kusmunda of SECL. Entire sampling process was to be conducted by excluding all stakeholders including agencies like Mahagenco, CIL and its subsidiaries and agents.
The NGT came down heavily upon MoEF for not conducting coal sampling process as directed and pointed out that it was constrained to issue warrant against MoEF director which was cancelled as per his request. The NGT made it clear that it wanted to ascertain the control mechanism to implement January 2, 2014 notification about clean coal norm. But due to apathy of MoEF, the NGT stated that it was held up to decide the matter.
The NGT had already directed Mahagenco to plant at least 1000 sapling per month at every power plant of Mahagenco for pollution already caused due to use of sub-standard coal and stern action against Mahagenco and its top management for willful disobedience of the order and MoEF norm on use of clean coal.