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National Green Tribunal directs CIL, Mahagenco to follow clean coal norms

 NAGPUR: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked Coal India Limited (CIL), its subsidiary Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), and Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco) to follow the clean coal norms mandated by union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). The ministry had on January 2 banned coal and power utilities from supplying or using coal with over 34% ash content as it poses a threat to environment.

The Pune-based division bench comprising Justice VR Kingaonkar (judicial member) and Ajay Deshpande (expert member) also asked Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to show compliance of the Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986.

The directives came while hearing an application by Mahadula-based social activist Ratnadeep Rangari alleging violation of MoEF norms banning use of coal with more than 34% ash content.

Earlier, MPCB had filed an affidavit that it had already issued a warning to all power plants to strictly adhere to MoEF notification advocating use of clean coal technology, beneficiation process to reduce pollution and fly-ash generated due to use of inferior quality coal.

Even Mahagenco's affidavit slammed coal utilities for supplying substandard coal and expressed helplessness, since it had no control over quality of coal received from CIL and its subsidiaries, which enjoy monopolistic position. However, NGT posed tough queries to Mahagenco, asking how it could blame coal companies when the quality of coal at loading point is claimed to be well within parameters.

Expectedly, WCL refuted allegations of low quality coal supply and asserted that it was supplying high-quality coal to Mahagenco. It also referred to Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court's order of March 6 by which its earlier order about third party sampling was recalled. The coal utility passed the buck on Mahagenco, stating that as per sample reports the coal quality was well within norms.

During the last hearing, the NGT directed Mahagenco to strictly follow MoEF notification and on Wednesday, it made it clear that as per law, both coal and power utilities have no choice but to adhere to MoEF notification prescribing clean coal technology.

The respondents apprised the NGT of prevailing litigations in Competition Appellate Tribunal and at the high court, in which quality of coal is a major issue and also promised to furnish certain documents. The bench then deferred the hearing till August 5 in view of pending litigations regarding the coal quality.


July 10, 2014, Times of India