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VADALUR SARVODAYA NAGAR versus UNION OF INDIA

High Court of Madras

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Vadalur Sarvodaya Nagar v. Union of India - W.P. No.497 of 2003 [2007] RD-TN 2976 (13 September 2007)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS

Dated : 13/09/2007

Coram

The Honourable Mr.Justice S.J.MUKHOPADHAYA and

The Honourable Mr.Justice N.PAUL VASANTHAKUMAR

W.P. No.497 of 2003

AND

WPMP. Nos.18476 and 18477 of 2003

The Vadalur Sarvodaya Nagar & Boomidhan Residents Welfare Association (Regn.No.107/2002)

Vadalur

Cuddalore District,

rep. by its President N.Sadasivam ..Petitioner Vs.

1. The Union of India

rep.by the Secretary to Government

Ministry of Environment and Forest

6th Floor

CGD Complex

Paryavaran Bhavan

Lodhi Road

NEW DELHI.

2. The State of Tamil Nadu

rep.by the Secretary to Government

Department of Environment and Forests

Fort St. George

Chennai 600 009.

3. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board

rep.by its Member Secretary

No.100

Anna Salai

Chennai 32.

4. The District Environment Engineer

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board

No.59

Seetharama Nagar

Cuddalore 607 001.

5. The District Collector

Cuddalore.

6. STCMS Electric Company (P) Ltd.

C.P.Ramaswamy Road

Chennai.

7. The Chettinad Lignite Transport Services Ltd. Vadalur

Cuddalore. ..Respondents This writ petition is filed under Article 226 of Constitution of India, praying this Court to issue a writ of mandamus forbearing the respondents from storage, transport of coal from or through Vadalur, Cuddalore District. For Petitioner : Mr.T.Mohan For 1st Respondent : Mr.P.Wilson, Asst. Solicitor General For Respondents 2 & 5 : Mr.D.Srinivasan, Addl.Government Pleader For Respondents 3 & 4 : Mr.Ramanlal For 6th Respondent : Mr.Sriram Panchu, Sr. Counsel for Mr.G.Anbumani For 7th Respondent : Mr.Sathish Parasaran O R D E R



(Order of the Court was made by S.J.MUKHOPADHAYA, J.) The Writ petition was filed in public interest for forbearing the respondents from storage, transport of coal from or through Vadalur, Cuddalore District.

2. According to the writ petitioner, the 7th respondent-The Chettinad Lignite Transport Services Ltd., Vadalur, extracts lignite from mine 1A of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) and transport the same to Vadalur Railway Station, wherefrom the coal is transported to the 6th respondent-The STCMS Electric Company (P) Ltd., Chennai. There are more than 100 families reside in Sarvodaya Nagar near the Vadalur Railway Station. The operation of the lignite depot at Vadalur results in high levels of suspended and respirable particulate matter being generated during various points such as, transport from the mine, storage at the bunker unit at Vadalur and transportation from the bunker to the silo by conveyance and transport from the silo to the zero unit. Apart from high risk to the ecology, there is also a high risk of serious human health impacts likely to be caused. The bunker is situated in an area, where there are more than 2400 houses assessed to property tax. There are many more hutments and low income residential housing in the area. The health impacts extend to over 40,000 people reside in and around Vadalur and over 25 villages, situate in the neighbourhood. The grievance of the petitioner is that the first respondent while granting clearance to the Power Plant, was under the impression that the transport of coal by road through lorries would be with adequate dust suppression measure adoption. This appears to be the claim in the Environment Impact Assessment. The matter having come to the notice of the petitioner, has alleged that though he represented the matter to the Government of Tamil Nadu on 23.9.2002, no action was taken.

3. During pendency of the writ petition, the petitioner filed an affidavit wherein it is alleged that he could learn that the 6th respondent Company, though obtained consent for establishment of the Unit in the year 1998 and commenced production activity in the year 2002, no public hearing or Environment Impact Assessment was conducted for the entire project.

4. The 7th respondent-The Chettinad Lignite Transport Services (P) Ltd., Vadalur, who is in fact the Transporter of lignite from Neyveli to Vadalur, while denied the allegation, has taken the plea that adequate safeguards have been taken to protect from any Environmental hazards apart from other steps taken for transportation of lignite from Neyvely to Vadalur to prevent any pollution. The lignite has very high moisture content and is not prone to fugitive emissions. NLC has been transporting lignite in open conveyors eversince the inception for several decades, but the 7th respondent has been transporting lignite from NLC in trucks, which are properly covered and sealed by tarpaulins. The trucks move along the road in the NLC land to the underground bunker, where the lignite is unloaded. A forced jet spray of water through nozzle has been installed to suppress emanation of any dust particles. The spray of water is inter-locked with dumping platform of the bunker so that it gets activated during unloading of lignite from trucks. The lignite, which is unloaded, is transferred from the bunkers to the silos by covered conveyors. These conveyors are covered on all sides. Water is sprayed through nozzles at transfer points in the conveyors for dust suppression. Any emission from each storage silos is taken to the respective bag filters that can filter particles upto 60 microns size. The clean, filtered and dust free air is released into the atmosphere. It is from the silos that the lignite is loaded into the railway wagons and other actions are taken. The following steps seems to have been taken by the 7th respondent:

(a) Providing dust suppression system through water spray nozzles for Dump

Hopper, Transfer points in the conveyor and loading chutes.

(b) Bag filters to arrest dust in the silos.

(c) Covering all hoppers as well as conveyors with G.I. Sheets.

(d) Provisions of Green Belt around the unit.

(e) 17 mtrs. x 11 mtrs. Height wind cladding on all three sides of the dump hopper.

This apart, the 7th respondent also stated that they have taken adequate steps to provide a green belt around the Control Room area as well as developing a green belt cross at dump hopper area.

5. In the counter affidavit of the 6th respondent it is submitted that the Environmental clearance in favour of the 6th respondent was obtained as back as on 3.5.1994; No Objection Certificate to set up the unit from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was obtained on 24.5.1994; consent to establish the plant under section 21 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, and consent under section 25 of the Water (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act, 1974, were obtained on 2.6.1998. According to the 6th respondent, no hearing was required to be given in public at that stage and in fact a sum of Rs.1400 crores has been invested for the power project, which is functioning from the end of 2002.

6. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was asked to inspect and submit a report to find out as to whether the activities of the 6th and 7th respondents are detrimental to the public in general. In its report dated 5.9.2007 while it is stated that the Unit was inspected on 3.9.2007, the following statements are made therein:

"TAMIL NADU POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD From To Er.R.Ramasubbu, M.E.,(PH). The Member Secretary District Environmental Engineer Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board No.76 83/6, Mount Salai Bharathi Road (1st Floor) Guindy Cuddalore 607 001. Chennai 600 032.

Lr.No.DEE/TNPCB/Ind/CUD/F.0015/2007, dated 05.09.2007

Sir,

Sub: TNPC Board - Hon'ble High Court, Chennai - W.P.No.497/2003-filed by Vadalur Sarvodaya Nagar - M/s.Chettinadu Lignite Transport Services (P) Limited Vadalur - latest report - Submitted - Regarding.

Ref: 1. Bds Memo.No.TNPCB/LAW/LA-1/0737/2007, dated 30.08.20007.

2. Bds.Proc.No.T12/TNPCB/MIOCS/F719/CUD/W/2007/ dt.08.08.2007.

3. Bds Proc.No.T12/TNPCB/MIOCS/F719/CUD/A/2007/ dt.008.08.2007.

---

With reference to the above, I am submitting that, Consent to establishment is issued to the unit of M/s.Chettinadu Lignite Transport Services (P) Limited, Vadalur for carrying out collection, storage and transportation of 7000 T/Day of Lignite from this office proceeding No.DEE/TNPCB/CUD/F.OL- 05/2002-1, dated 28.08.2002 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, as amended and vide this office proceeding No.DEE/TNPCB/CUD/F.OL-05/2002-2, dated 28.08.2002 under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, as amended. The unit has commissioned the operation on 24.01.2003.

Subsequently frequent public complaints are raised from the nearby habitation regarding the lignite dust pollution. Hence, necessary direction has been issued to the unit under the Section 31-A of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 as amended to carry out certain improvement measures vide Board's Proceeding No.TNPCB/LAW/LAI/022190/2003, dated 18.03.2005. The unit has also been requested to carry out certain improvement measures including the constructions of 3.0m ht. compound wall over which 3.0 m ht. G.I.Sheet as wind barrier vide reference vide Board's letter No.T12/TNPCB/719/RL/CUD/dated 06.04.2005. A show cause notice has been issued from this office vide reference vide this office Proceeding No.DEE/TNPCB/CUD/F.OL-05/2006, dated 07.06.2006 for operating the unit without the consent to operate of the Board under the Section 31- A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 as amended (copy enclosed in Annexure-I). The unit has furnished a reply to the above show cause notice (copy enclosed in Annexure-II). After complying with the directions and the improvement measures suggested by the Board, the unit has requested for consent to operate of the Board vide it's letter dated 19.08.2006 (copy enclosed in Annexure-III).

The unit was inspected on 07.06.2007 and found that the unit and the Air Pollution Control Measures were in operation was recommended for the issue of consent to operate to this unit under the both Acts to the Board office. Subsequently, consent to operate has been issued to the unit under the both Acts vide Board's Proceeding vide ref.2nd and 3rd cited subject to certain conditions.

The unit was inspected on 03.09.2007 and the compliances of the steps taken to prevent pollution as stated i the counter affidavit filed by the 7th Respondent, is furnished below:-

========================================================================== Sl. Condition Compliance No. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 01 The Respondents are spraying water Complied with. through dust suppression system while loading lignite into trucks at the mines stockpile itself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 02 The Respondents are transporting Complied with. lignite in trucks that are fully covered by tarpaulin. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 03 Originally the 5 k.m. road from dump Complied with. hopper to NLC Mine IA stockpile area was a mud/kaccha road with lots of undulation. Now 800 Mtrs. of road from dump hopper have been converted into

cement concrete road and the rest of

them have been black topped and there

is therefore no spillage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 04 Concrete has been laid in the unloading Complied with. platform and in the ramp area. Water is sprayed regularly on the roads from NLC Mine-IA to Vadalur dump hopper,

unloading platform and in the ramp area thus controlling dust emission.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 05 Greenery has been developed at the road Complied with. sides and about 500 numbers of trees and plants were planted in and around dump hopper as a greenery development

measure in 2003 and about 1300 plants

were added in the year 2005.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 06 Initially 8 Nos. of Multi tipper Complied with. automatic water spray (Mist type) nozzles were installed in the dump hopper to prevent the pollution in east and south sides. To curb the dust

pollution completely, additional 8 Nos. of multi-tipped automatic water spray

nozzles have been added at a height of

about 3 mtrs. above the existing

nozzles to prevent the pollution in

dump hopper during dumping lignite from tippers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 07 The dump hopper has been fully covered Complied with. by vertical/ straight cladding G.I. Sheets. Initially louvre sheets were provided in dump hopper area. To

prevent the dust emission completely

louvre sheets have been converted into

vertical/straight cladding sheets.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 08 3 meters height Vertical/ Straight Complied with. cladding sheets with rubber flaps have been provided on the top of the dump hopper in north and west sides to serve as a dust curtain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 09 The respondents have installed a Complied with. windscreen arrangement to an effective height of 11 mtrs. above the ground level on three sides (North, east and

south sides) of the dump hopper and to

an effective total length of 170 mtrs.

as per TNPCB advice which has

eliminated the air pollution in the

surrounding area.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 10 The total conveyor system is covered Complied with. with cladding G.I. sheets on both sides of the conveyor and top roof has been laid. The conveyor bottom is fully

covered by deck sheets. Hence the

pollution is completely controlled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 11 All the transfer points of the Complied with. conveyors are equipped with water water spray nozzles for Dust Suppression. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 12 The skirt board sealing system is Complied with. provided at all the transfer points to avoid the spillage from the belt conveyor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 13 Scrapper pads have been installed in Complied with. all belt conveyors to wipe the sticking materials in the belt conveyor and hence spillages are highly reduced.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 14 The respondents are having Dust Complied with. collectors/bag filters on top of each silo to settle the particulate matter while filling the silos.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 15 The louver type sheeting in the silo Complied with. top is modified to Vertical/ Straight cladding type sheeting as per the advice of TNPC Board at all places of

the conveying system, drive and tail

stations.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 16 Doors are provided with auto closing Complied with. arrangement (Door Closer) in the entry points at silo top conveyor galleries. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 17 The silo bottom is fully covered with Complied with. G.I. Sheets on both the sides. GI cladding sheets and rubber pads are fixed on the rail entry and exit area

as dust curtains.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 18 The loading chutes have been installed Complied with. with Dust Suppression System so that the water is sprayed in the form of mist and hence the emission of

particulate matter is completely

controlled during wagon loading.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 19 The respondents have installed Complied with. polycarbonate view glass in the GI Sheet Window in the north side of the silo bottom at the wagon loading area

as per the TNPC Board advice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 20 Installing an Acoustic Enclosure around Complied with. the generator set has also reduced the noise pollution created from the D.G.Set.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 21 The respondents have been loading 58 Complied with. wagons with multi engine for the past two years. Now the respondents are using 46 wagons with single engine and

hence the noise created has also been

drastically reduced.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 22 The respondents have planned to plant Under progress. 1000 tree samplings in and around Vadalur Panchayat area as per the District Collector advice which process has commenced.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 23 Thus suspended particulate matter Complied with. generated during transportation and handling of lignite and noise pollution generated during loading operation and

running the generator sets were

identified and remedial actions were

done according to TNPC Board

recommendations. There is therefore no

pollution as sought to be alleged.

==========================================================================

The AAQ/ANL survey conducted on 11.07.2006 reveals that the parameters SPM, SO2 , NOx and ANL are within the tolerance limit specified for the Residential zone in all the location (copy enclosed).

This is submitted for favour of kind information and necessary action please.

Sd/- xxxxxxxxx District Environmental Engineer, TNPC Board, Cuddalore."

7. The learned counsel for the writ petitioner requested to verify as to whether the above report is correct or not. But, in the absence of any contrary material, we accept the report as submitted by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

8. Now the only question arises is whether any public hearing was given before grant of Environmental Clearance, in favour of the 6th respondent.

9. It is informed that the Public hearing was made mandatory as back as on 27.1.1994, which was made optional on 3.5.1994. It was again made mandatory on 10.4.1997. In the present case, the Environmental Clearance was given in favour of M/s.Neyveli Lignite Corporation, on 23.12.1988, which was subsequently transferred in favour of the 6th respondent. Thereafter, Environmental Clearance in favour of the petitioner was given on 3.5.1994. For more than 8 to 10 years no objection was raised by any individual including the petitioner till the company invested the total amount and started functioning since December, 2002. In any case, the mandate of public hearing was made optional since 3.5.1994.

10. From the above said facts it is evident that when the original Environmental Clearance was given in favour of NLC, there was no requirement for public hearing and subsequently when it was issued in favour of the 6th respondent, it was made optional. Again it was on the 10th April, 1997, it was made mandatory. In any case, now more than ten years have passed since the Company started functioning and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board also after due verification, submitted a report in favour of the respondent and hence we are not inclined to decide the issue as raised in the amendment petition in W.P.M.P.No.18476 of 2003.

11. In these circumstances, no further order is required to be passed in the present case. The writ petition is disposed of. There will be no order as to costs. Connected miscellaneous petitions are closed. vr

To

1. The Secretary to Government

Ministry of Environment and Forests

6th Floor

CGD Complex

Paryavaran Bhavan

Lodhi Road

New Delhi.

2. The Secretary to Government

Department of Environment and Forests Fort St. George

Chennai 600 009.

3. The Member Secretary

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board

No.100

Anna Salai

Chennai 32.

4. The District Environment Engineer

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board

No.59

Seetharama Nagar

Cuddalore 607 001.

5. The District Collector

Cuddalore.


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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