MP pollution control board asks Reliance firm to pay Rs 10 cr for dyke breach
The Madhya Pradesh pollution control board on Thursday sought interim relief of Rs 10 crore from Reliance’s Sasan Power Limited, holding it responsible for the April 10 breach in its fly ash dyke resulting in the death of five people in the state’s Singrauli, 780 kms north-east of Bhopal. The money, the board said, should be deposited within a fortnight and asked the company to start remedial and restoration work within 14 days.
In a letter written on April 13, the board warned that if the measures as directed by it are not taken up within the stipulated timeframe “the industry shall be closed down” and shall not restart production till further orders.
The board also warned that in case of non-compliance of the order “the concerned authorities shall disconnect the water supply, electricity supply and other facilities available to the industry with immediate effect”.
Six people including a woman and her two children, and a man and his son went missing and two women sustained injuries after a fly ash dyke of the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project developed a breach on April 10 evening.
According to district collector of Singrauli, KVS Chaudhary, bodies of five of the six people have been recovered so far.
Chaudhary said on Thursday, “Rs 10 lakh each was paid to the next of kin of the dead apart from compensation for the houses damaged. The company has also offered jobs to the next of kin of the deceased. Survey of agricultural land damaged due to fly ash has also been done. The money will be deposited in the bank accounts of the farmers from tomorrow.”
The MPPCB in its April 13 letter said, “…Whereas industry started filling the low lying area with fly ash in the slurry form which was found to be a violation of the conditions of permissions and therefore a show cause notice was given to the industry vide letter dated March 30, 2019 indicating the violation being done by the industry along with suitable warning.”
The board said, “…due to the above violations done by the industry and due to indiscriminate and uncontrolled discharge of ash slurry against the conditions of the permission of low lying area filling and against the condition of consent, the breakage of illegally constructed bund wall took place resulting in the overflow of fly ash slurry which has caused damage to the environment, agriculture, property, and lives of human and cattle. A large quantity of fly ash is suspected to have reached the Govind Vallabh Pant reservoir thereby affecting the water quality, tank capacity, and the life of aquatic flora and fauna is also at stake.”
The board has asked the company inter alia to take up repair and restoration work immediately; and to depute an institute of national repute to assess the quantum of environmental damage. It has also told the company to submit a time bound action plan and to assess the design and structural safety of the ash dyke of the industry situated near village Harrhawa.
Environment expert and advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey said, “The board’s letter has corroborated my charges that it was the company which was responsible for the incident and loss of life. It was the third such incident in the region within a year but unfortunately the government and its agencies don’t take exemplary action to deter others from being involved in such negligence.”
When contacted AK Singh, chief executive officer of Sasan Power Ltd, said, “We have got 15 days time. There is an entire team involved. We are discussing it. We will take advice of technical experts too and then we will decide how to go ahead.”
Earlier, in its response when the incident had taken place the company had said, “We are deeply anguished by the incident involving the break in the ash dump yard wall at our Sasan Power Plant. The break in ash dump yard wall pushed the water leading to break in the boundary wall affecting some thatched houses and minor land parcel. We are investigating the reasons underlying the incident. Power Plant operations continue as the relief and restoration work is not affected by the same. We are closely working with locals and the district administration in relief and restoration work.”