Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Env Ministry to look into power plant's impact on mango crop

Press Trust of India / New Delhi June 29, 2010, 15:09 IST

Taking serious note of complaints of Alphonso mango growers, the Environment Ministry has warned power producer JSW Energy Ltd that it will have to shut down its proposed plant in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra if its operations have adverse impact on fruit production.
The Ministry has also set up a panel to monitor the impact of the JSW group's 1200 MW coal-based plant operation, which is yet to be started, on the fruit production in the horticulture zone, Environment Ministry officials said.
With the locals expressing concerns that the plant will emit toxic gases spelling disaster to the fruit production, the ministry has asked the power firm to strictly follow the schedule for commissioning Rs 527 crore worth Flue Gas Desulfurisation (FGD) technology. FGD is a environment-friendly technology used for removing sulphur dioxide (SO2) from the exhaust flue gases of fossil fuel power plants using coals.
The ministry has made it clear to the company that it will reduce the power generation and change to a fuel with low sulphur content or close the power plant if SO2 emissions exceed the prescribed standards.
The three-member panel constituted by the ministry is headed by horticulturist P Pujari from Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth with a mandate to identify stations to monitor sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the region.
The other members include Girish Sant, Prayas Pune and member Secretary of Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board.
The other mandate of the committee include identifying the range of variations of SO2 levels that are safe for various phases of the plants such as vegetative, flowering and fruiting.
The committee, which will be funded by the project proponent, to execute its work has also been asked to monitor the yield potential and quality of the Alphonso mango as well.
According to a study by scientists from the Lucknow-based Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, published in the Journal of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology in December 1999, SO2 reduces the quality and quantity of mangoes.
Ratnagiri farmers had approached the Mumbai High Court too fearing that the flyash and SO2 pollution will spell disaster for the mango orchards as well other crops in the region that, in 1997, was declared a horticulture zone.
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Environment Ministry had given clearance to the thermal power plant located in Jaigad in May 2007

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prized India Mangos May Curb JSW Energy's Power Project Plans in Heartland - Bloomberg

Prized India Mangos May Curb JSW Energy's Power Project Plans in Heartland - Bloomberg

Prized India Mangos May Curb JSW Energy's Power Project Plans in Heartland

JSW Energy Ltd., an affiliate of India’s third-largest steelmaker, may have to scale back or shut down its biggest planned power project if pollution threatens mango crops near the plant, the Environment Ministry said.

JSW Energy plans to build a 1,200-megawatt, coal-fired power plant in Ratnagiri, the heart of an agricultural zone where India’s prized Alphonso mangos are grown.

“If at any point of time adverse impacts on mango orchards are noticed or established, the plant shall be shut down,” according to a letter to the company dated June 28, posted on the ministry’swebsite and verified by ministry spokeswomen Kalpana Palkhiwala in New Delhi by telephone.

The company was notified of changes to the environment clearance awarded to the project on April 16 in response to concerns that sulfur dioxide emissions may harm nearby mango crops.Sulfur dioxide is produced when coal is burned and can lead to acid rain, smog and haze, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sharmila Banerjee, a spokeswoman for the JSW Group, didn’t answer phone calls or immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

India accounts for more than half of the world’s mango production, according to theAgricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. The Asian nation’s export of the fruit rose 33 percent to 1.7 billion rupees ($36 million) in the year ended March 31, 2009, according to the agency.

JSW Energy has told the ministry it will reduce output, change to a cleaner-burning fuel or close the proposed plant if it exceeds prescribed sulfur-dioxide emission levels, according to the letter.

The company’s current capacity is 1,000 megawatts, Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said Nov. 17. The utility plans to add at least 2,800 megawatts, of which the Ratnagiri plant is the biggest single project, according to its website.

JSW Energy is an affiliate of JSW Steel Ltd. based in Mumbai.

To contact the reporter on this story: Natalie Obiko Pearson in Mumbai