Thursday, July 29, 2010

No chemical project to come up in coastal Konkan region, IBN Live News

No chemical project to come up in coastal Konkan region, IBN Live News:

Mumbai, Jul 27 (PTI) Maharashtra Finance Minister Sunil Tatkare today assured that no chemical projects would be allowed to come up in coastal Konkan region in the backdrop of opposition from locals to some of the proposed power projects in the area. "No chemical projects would be allowed to come up in Konkan. It is necessary to check that water does not get polluted and farming and orchid don't get affected while accepting industrialisation," Tatkare informed the Legislative Council while replying to a discussion over Konkan region. There are 27 thermal power projects proposed in the region of which five would come up in first phase, Tatkare said. The Government has ensured all the affected people to compensate their lands with market value, he said. "The affected people due to upcoming Tata power plant would get Rs 20 lakh per acre, employment to one of the family members and free training from the industry coming there," the minister said. He also hoped that the proposed Jaitapur project would generate 10,000 mw of power and help to curb down the shortage. In order to boost tourism in the region, Tatkare said the Public Works Department has been instructed to join 720 km long coastal route with highways to attract more tourists.MORE PTI SSG AT

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Leopard on the prowl in Goregaon, Mulund - Mumbai - City - The Times of India

Leopard on the prowl in Goregaon, Mulund

Simit Bhagat, TNN, Jul 22, 2010, 12.17am IST

MUMBAI: Residents of New MHADA Colony, Goregaon (E) have been hosting an unusual guest these days. For the past few weeks, a leopard has been regularly straying into the residential area, hunting for stray dogs.

On Monday, the leopard entered Sankalp Siddhi society, Dindoshi, on the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), and was spotted sitting near the compound wall at 2 am.

Residents said the watchman, Jamil S, first spotted the leopard and alerted them. It was around 2 am that I saw the leopard in the lane near the society. I immediately alerted one of the society members, who was standing right besides me, Jamil said.

The leopard was sitting near the lane for more than couple of hours. Amit Lotlikar, a nature lover and resident of Sankalp Siddhi Society said, This is not the first time the leopard has been spotted in the area. We have been spotting the big cat along with its three cubs for nearly one year. It seems to be injured and is limping.

Interestingly, on Sunday, another leopard was spotted by a group of residents in Rock Garden society in Yogi Hills, Mulund around 9 pm. There too, the cat was first spotted by the watchman of the society, who warned residents not to step out of their homes. The residents immediately informed the police control room and the cops reached the site quickly, but by then the leopard had vanished into the forest.

However, people living in these areas are now living under the fear of moving out of their homes late in the evening.

As Suresh Rajyaguru, chairman of Sankalp Siddhi society said, These days the big cat has been straying into the area a bit too regularly. It is scary.

Animal Vs Man

l Between 2001 and 2004, there were 89 incidents of leopard attacks on humans. But that has come down drastically. In 2007 and 2008, there were only one and two injuries respectively to humans due to leopard attacks

l The forest department trapped around 22 leopards in areas like Powai, Aarey Colony, Borivli and Thane in

2004-2005, and shifted them to other forest areas in Maharashtra. It also carried out awareness drives among locals and ran a mobile squad for regular patrols to monitor animal movements

l Though attacks on humans have come down, sightings of the big cat in peripheral areas of the SGNP have gone up. In February 2010, a leopard was spotted on two days by security guards of Siddhachal Phase VI Complex in Thane. Earlier, in November 2008, a leopard was spotted at a factory in Kolshet area of Kapurbawadi in Thane

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New worry for power utility, 8 old units unviable

New worry for power utility, 8 old units unviable:

Vivek Deshpande Posted online: Sun Jul 18 2010, 03:06 hrs
Nagpur : Even as Maharashtra races against time to plug the ever-increasing demand-supply gap, it is facing another crisis that may push its deadline for zero loadshedding to a later date.

At least eight units of Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco), more than 30 years old, are leading to losses to the extent that Mahagenco has decided to shut them down. Parali units 1 and 2, Paras unit 2, Bhusaval and Koradi units 1 to 4 together posted losses worth around Rs 150 crore in 2009-10. As a result, Mahagenco shut down four units of Koradi Thermal Power Station days ago.

“However, with the Maharashtra State Power Transmission Company (Mahavitaran) agreeing to buy power at merchant (commercial) rates, Mahagenco has decided to restart the units and is mulling forming a separate company to run the vintage units on merchant basis if Mahavitaran or Reliance is ready to buy power from them at merchant rates,” managing director Subrata Ratho told The Sunday Express.

Ratho, replying to a question whether Mahagenco had restarted the units under pressure from some local politicians who want them to run to favour a contractors’ lobby, said, “Not at all.” “We were talking to Mahavitaran whether we can run the plants on merchant basis in October-November. Because of Dabhol generation dipping suddenly by 1,000 MW and restrictions on Koyna generation, Mahavitaran has written to us stating they are ready to buy power at merchant rates. That’s why we decided to restart these units,” he added.

Asked if these units getting old meant new units and plants being built would maintain the present production instead of adding to it, Ratho said, “the original idea was to run them till adequate capacity is created, but the losses have become too heavy. So, we have to see if they can be run on merchant basis....”

Chhattisgarh case against Jindal Power - India - The Times of India

Chhattisgarh case against Jindal Power - India - The Times of India
NEW DELHI: Jindal Power Ltd (JPL) could be in for more trouble with the Chhattisgarh government filing legal proceedings against the company for illegally starting work on its 2,400 MW thermal power project in the state.

The proceedings have been launched by the Chhatisgarh Pollution Control Board after it was found that the company, whose board is chaired by Congress MP Naveen Jindal, had begun construction at the site without prior environmental clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) as per the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1976.

The Rs 13,410-crore project faced roadblocks when on June 18 MoEF retracted the terms of reference (ToR) granted for the expansion of the project from 1,000 MW to 2,400 MW. The retraction came in the wake of a complaint from an NGO alleging illegal construction without requisite clearance.

On May 22, the ministry sent an inspection team and found rampant construction for the proposed facility within the premises of the existing one which was in violation of Section 2 of the EIA Notification, 2006, under the EPA, 1976.
JPL had applied for the expansion phase of the plant in April 2007, while the 1,000 MW plant was still under construction. The expansion was to be of 1,320 MW and located adjacent to the 1,000 MW plant. The land requirement was pegged at 750 hectares. The ToRs were granted in July 2007.

In August 2008, the company proposed another expansion of 1,600 MW. It was granted TORs in December 2008. JPL revised the proposal yet again in early 2009, and fixed the new expansion capacity at 2,400 MW. This time around, it required 1,041 hectares of land. The state government ordered a public hearing under the EPA on April 5, 2010, but JPL allegedly had begun construction on the expansion way ahead of the processes that precede environmental clearance.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jindal pays for flouting law | Down To Earth

Jindal pays for flouting law | Down To Earth

JINDAL Power Limited (JPL), the power bigwig of the private arena in India, is making news.

In the spotlight is the 2,400 MW expansion of the company’s existing 1,000 MW coal-based thermal power facility at Tamnar village in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh.

The Rs 13,410-crore project hit a roadblock on June 18 when the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) retracted the terms of reference (TOR) granted for the expansion. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is done based on these TORs. The retraction came in the wake of a complaint from an NGO alleging illegal construction; illegal because the company did not obtain the requisite environmental clearance (see: Attention, environment minister). more


Solar Cheaper than Nukes | RenewablesBiz

Solar Cheaper than Nukes | RenewablesBiz

Solar Cheaper than Nukes

Bill Opalka | Jul 15, 2010


The last time I caught up with NC WARN the group caused quite a stir with its call to eliminate coal-fired generation in North Carolina in 15 years.

The group, whose moniker stands for waste awareness & reduction network, is at it again with a new report that said a "historic crossover" has occurred between the costs of building solar installations and new nuclear plants. The report said that the state's utilities have rejected solar energy in favor of nuclear plants that require massive public subsidies and additional transfer of financial risks to electricity customers and taxpayers.

"North Carolina should be leading, not lagging, in the transition to clean energy," said John Blackburn, the former chancellor of Duke University and emeritus chair of its economics department.

He also said the fast-growing worldwide solar industry is poised to bring thousands of manufacturing and installation jobs to North Carolina.

Clean energy advocates point out that solar photovoltaic (PV) for home systems, rooftop installations on businesses and utility-scale plants have fallen rapidly in recent years and that trend is expected to accelerate over the next decade. WARN also said that delays and design issues still dog nuclear plants.

Blackburn said an "apples to apples" cost comparison, net of incentives for both technologies, was based on interviews and published reports of solar trends and cost estimates to build nuclear plants.

Blackburn, who produced the report for clean energy nonprofit NC WARN, was assisted by Sam Cunningham, a master's candidate at the Duke University Nicholas School for the Environment. The authors emphasized that solar prices should be compared to new nuclear plant costs, and that electric rates will rise much less with a clean-energy approach.

Jindal power plant risk to alphonsos | Down To Earth

Jindal power plant risk to alphonsos | Down To Earth: "Jindal power plant risk to alphonsos"

Jindal power plant risk to alphonsos

Author(s): Reshma Jathar
Issue: Jul 31, 2010

It can function without treating SO2, says environment ministry

imageSO2 emissions can char mango flowers (Photo: Satyajit Chavan)THE Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has bent backward to commission the 1,200 MW thermal plant in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, promoted by the Jindal group.

The ministry has agreed to let the plant function without the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) unit needed to remove sulphur dioxide (SO2) from the flue gas emitted by burning coal. The company, JSW Energy Limited, has been given three years to install the unit.

JSW had approached the ministry on June 21 seeking permission to operate the plant without the FGD unit costing Rs 527 crore. The ministry agreed and ordered the constitution of a supervisory panel to monitor SO2 levels. The panel, headed by P Pujari, horticulture professor at Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, will identify mango orchards for installing SO2 monitoring stations. Their data will be uploaded on JSW’s website. The plant in Jaigad tehsil is surrounded by alphonso mango orchards.

Farmers and activists have opposed the project from the outset. “At least 900 hectares (ha) near the plant are under mango cultivation. The quality of alphonso mangoes here is very high and they are exported to developed countries that have strict quality certification,” said Vivek Bhide, a mango orchard owner in Malgund near Jaigad. “If the plant is commissioned, we will face difficulties in getting export certification,” he added.

The Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth has been studying the possible impact of the project on alphonso mangoes in the area for the Jindals for a year. Pujari said the report cannot be made public till it is completed. Asked about the commissioning of the plant without the FGD unit, Pujari said the ministry’s permission is conditional. He said the plant’s impact on mango orchards would be known only when monitoring begins. JSW spokesperson Rouhan Sharma refused to comment.

Experts said the emissions will affect the orchards. “Mango flowers are very delicate. They can get charred by air laden with SO2. The emissions can also cause acid rain; even acidic dew drops can affect the flowers,” said P R Arun, an environmental consultant in Mumbai. The Delhi High Court had earlier asked the ministry’s expert appraisal committee to re-examine the project’s environmental clearance. The committee while favouring the plant’s commissioning had said the emissions would benefit the mango orchards (see “Coal emissions nourish trees’, Down To Earth, February 28, 2010).

“It took us almost 10 years to get an FGD unit installed at the 500 MW Dahanu thermal power station in Thane district despite a Supreme Court order,” said Michelle Chawla of Tamarind Tree, a non-profit in Dahanu. “Even after the unit was installed, there is no study on its effectiveness,” she said.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Some more EIA lies | Down To Earth

Villagers nail EIA lies | Down To Earth: "Villagers nail EIA lies"

Draft report says:

  • The EIA project consultant, Shiva Test House, says project land is barren
  • Dwells on the population within a 10 km radius to hide the population density near the site
  • Shows Roksa village at 3 km distance from site; mentions a river Baya
  • Project will draw 300 cubic metre groundwater daily but does not show what impact it will have on people

Ground reality:

  • The site and its adjoining farms grow mangoes, lychees, wheat, rice, seasonal vegetables and mustard
  • The site is surrounded by eight schools and eight villages with populations ranging from 8,000 to 20,000.
  • Roksa is 600-700 metres from the site; there is no river Baya in the area
  • No surveys conducted for preparing baseline data

Coal emissions nourish trees. :)

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) | Down To Earth: ‘Coal emissions nourish trees’
Author(s): Nidhi Jamwal
Issue: Feb 28, 2010
Environment ministry pushes Jindal power plants in Konkan

An expert� panel of the Union environment ministry has justified the setting up of coal-fired power plants in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. It has said the thermal power plants may prove beneficial for mango plantations as the trees could draw sustenance from the oxides of sulphur and nitrogen emitted by them. Ratnagiri is famous for its Alphonso mangoes and farmers here export their produce to Europe."

47new power plants in Vidarbha- 33000MW

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) | Down To Earth: "
47 power plants in Vidarbha
Author(s): Aparna Pallavi
Issue: Feb 28, 2010
Why set up thermal plants when the region is power surplus?

Maharashtra’s target is to generate 33,000 MW from 47 new thermal power plants. This is a measure for its power-starved western part; some of it would go to the Nor-thern Grid. Vidarbha, in eastern Maha-rashtra, is power surplus; the region produces 67 per cent of the total power in the state. A chunk of this is already supplied to western Maharashtra. Why then is the state keen on 47 more power plants?"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New policy gets tough on PILs against projects

New policy gets tough on PILs against projects

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Jul 1, 2010, 12.52am IST
NEW DELHI: Petitioners contemplating PILs against ongoing projects on environment grounds might want to do a rethink. The government's new litigation policy calls for petitioners to be slapped with costs for stoppage of projects that are in public interest.

This approach is a prominent part of the National Litigation Policy (NLP) announced recently by law minister Veerappa Moily and is a response to PILs that lack merit. Though a majority of PILs challenging projects are ultimately dismissed, they succeed in delaying work.

The NLP drafted by attorney-general G E Vahanvati says, "PILs challenging public contract must be seriously defended. If interim orders are passed stopping such projects, then appropriate condition must be insisted upon for petitioners to pay compensation if the PIL is ultimately rejected."

The policy, the government argues, is meant for those petitioners who rush to courts with PILs to merely get publicity immediately after a controversy over a social, political or legislative issue. Critics, however, are likely to argue that the policy will curb public spirited actions.

"It must be recognized that several PILs are filed for collateral reasons, including publicity, and at the instance of third parties. Such litigation must be exposed as being not bonafide," the NLP stressed.

However, NLP does not envisage all PILs as ill-intentioned or bad in law and talks about the need for government to adopt a balanced approach. "On the one hand, PILs should not be taken as a matter of convenience to let the courts do what government finds inconvenient," it said.

A good example of the government turning to the courts to bail it out was the reference on the Ayodhya issue sent by the President to the Supreme Court, immediately after the December 6, 1992 demolition of the disputed shrine. The reference sought an opinion on whether a Ram temple pre-existed the Babri mosque.
The SC had returned the reference without offering an opinion.

The NLP recognizes that an increase in the number of PILs in high courts and the Supreme Court stemmed from a perception that the government was not doing what it was supposed to do or due to a lethargic bureaucracy. "This perception must be changed," it says. The proposal to link costs with dismissal of PILs is, however, bound to be controversial.