Mangaluru, Aug 23, 2016: B. Ramanath Rai, Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology, pointed out on Aug 22, Monday that no proposal has come to his Ministry so far regarding capacity expansion of the coal-based 1,200 MW thermal power plant of UPCL, Udupi Power Corporation Ltd, he said this in a meet the media.
Minister Rai said that the proposal might have gone to other departments. “I do not want to talk about this (expansion). I am here to give directions to UPCL to expand green cover in the entire Udupi district and take environmental safety measures,” he said.
Earlier, chairing a meeting at the plant site attended by officers of the Environment Department and UPCL, Mr. Rai said that it was not enough if UPCL merely made some donations to schools and planted saplings in the surrounding villages, it should plant trees in the entire Udupi district.
The officials of the Department of Forests would show the spots in the district, where saplings could be planted. UPCL should follow the environment safety guidelines given to it by the officials of the Environment Department. “We do not want any complaints from the local people. Priority should be given to employing local people in the company,” he said.
Ramachandra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Ecology, said that UPCL should do testing of ambient air quality in a 10-km radius from the company twice a week.
It should take precautions to see that minute coal particles did not enter any water bodies in the 10-km radius.
“There should be third party monitoring by an agency recognised by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests,” he said.
He said that the ash generated at the thermal plant should be transported free, to local units capable of utilising it, in a 300-km radius. Priority should be given to local units instead of big cement companies. This will also help generate local employment.
When the environmental clearance was given to the thermal plant, a condition was imposed stating that the company would do a study on the effect of acids on a keystone species in the Western Ghats, which was close by.
The study should be taken up immediately as it had not been done so far, Mr. Ramachandra said.
K. Kishore Alva, Executive Director, UPCL, and P.K. Sundar Ray, Station Head, explained the environment safety measures and activities under Corporate Social Responsibility taken by the company.
Shanthappa, member-secretary, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, was present.