Environment Ministry team visits villages affected by thermal plants on Nagpur outskirts


Prompted by repeated complaints from the area, a team of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Saturday visited the villages affected by dumping of fly ash and ash slurry from the Khaparkheda Thermal Power Station (KTPS) near Nagpur.

Incidentally, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has sent a notice to KTPS to immediately stop disposing and dumping ash slurry into the Nandgaon ash pond about 20-odd km to its north-east.

For the last few months, residents along with Zilla Parishad members from Nandgaon have been protesting the illegal dumping of ash slurry in their farmlands in complete violation of all environmental rules. Fly ash was also being dumped without a no-objection certificate (NOC) from local residents.

A team comprising officials from the MOEF&CC, Maharashtra power department, MPCB, village sarpanch and representatives of Centre for Sustainable Development (CFSD), a Nagpur-based advocacy think-tank, visited multiple locations around the KTPS, including Nandgaon, river Kolar, pumping stations, leaked pipeline that led slurry discharge etc. The pollution control board officials picked up samples at various places.

Towards the end of the visit, the team also went to the Bhanegaon bridge from where the direct discharge from the Khaparkheda plant into the Kanhan river was seen. Plant officials tried to pass it off as a natural stream, but the stream was full of ash and was being directly discharged into the river, prompting the MPCB officials to lift samples from there too.

At a meeting after the site visit, the thermal plant officials assured mitigation steps, said CFSD’s Leena Buddhe, who said, her organisation will be more than willing to collaborate with the team for pollution mitigation on site to help the villagers.

Earlier last month, the affected villagers had requested the MPCB, Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MAHAGENCO) as well as state’s Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray to look into the serious issue.

Sonali Manoj Varkhade, Sarpanch from Nandgaon, explained how the pollution impacted the whole village: “The ash slurry is destroying our farms, polluting our water bodies, drinking water and having severe health impacts and the fly ash was spreading all across causing air pollution. Our Gram Panchayat has not issued any NOC for this Ash Pond.”

Meanwhile, the Direction Notice issued on February 3 by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board regional officer (Nagpur) to the Chief Engineer, KTPS, pointed out how it had received various complaints regarding disposal of ash slurry into Nandgaon ash pond without permission or without providing any precautionary measures resulting in water and air pollution in the vicinity, which amounts to a violation of various environment norms.

“Accordingly, Boards officials had inspected the Nandgaon ash pond and verified the disposal of ash slurry in the Nandgaon ash pond without providing any pollution control arrangements. a Now, therefore, in view of the above, you (KTPS) are hereby directed to comply with the following directions: You shall stop disposal / dumping of ash slurry into the Nandgaon ash pond, immediately. You shall comply with fly ash notification for utilization of fly ash,” the notice read. The MPCB also warned of strict action in case of failure to comply with guidelines.

Welcoming the development, Varkhade, however, said the demand is for a complete ban on disposal and not a temporary one.



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