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