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Air quality to be tested in 4 spots inside N Chennai power station

A Tangedco official said that the bids for testing ambient air quality in four additional locations were invited following the direction from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

CHENNAI: Facing complaints of unabated pollution caused by its coal-based thermal power stations, the State power utility, Tangedco, has proposed to test ambient air quality at four locations in and around North Chennai Thermal Power Station.

The utility has floated the bid to test ambient air quality at four locations in and around the NCTPS I for 24 weeks. A Tangedco official said that the bids for testing ambient air quality in four additional locations were invited following the direction from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

According to the official, the air quality testing would be done at select locations within the premises of the NCTPS but outside the plant. “Already, the real-time emissions from the stacks of the thermal power station are monitored by the Pollution Control Board,” the official added.

A TNPCB official said that Tangedco was directed to set up ambient air monitoring stations, as the board was getting complaint after complaint about the thermal units. “Ambient air quality monitoring is done outside the plant. It will be fixed in all directions within the NCTPS premises to monitor the air quality,” the official said.

Ambient air monitoring would help monitor the fugitive emissions from openly stored coal, fly ash and vehicular emissions, the official added.

Nityanand Jayaraman, a city-based environmentalist, said the need of the hour was to set up additional ambient monitors outside the plant premises in places like Ennore and Tiruvottiyur. “There is occupational hazard in the plant, and thus air quality should be monitored for the workers’ seek. But the need of the hour is to have additional monitoring outside the plant considering public health,” he said.

He noted that the existing air quality monitoring has demonstrated that Tangedco has violated the emission norms. “Action should be taken against the utility for violations. The TNPCB has to enforce the law but it is a ‘toothless tiger’,” he said, adding that installing monitors was only a first step.

Tangedco should then comply with the real-time monitoring guidelines which they would not follow, he said, alleging that the power utility has no intention to comply with the environmental laws. However, the TNPCB would not act against it because it generates electricity, he said.

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