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EIA figures on Ennore project misleading: Activists

The air quality in Ennore would be the cleanest in the city if we are to believe the TANGEDCO’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) report prepared for the 660MW coal power expansion project there.

EIA figures on Ennore project misleading: Activists
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Fact File

Chennai

The EIA, conducted by Ramky Enviro Engineers, registered PM 2.5 level which deviate between 19.3 μg/m3 to 36.8 μg/m3, which doesn’t exceed the national ambient air quality standard of 40 μg/m3. 

“If we go by this report, Ennore, which is a highly industrialised area, is much cleaner than any other part of the city, including Poes Garden and Boat Club,” said environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman. After the decommissioning of the Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) recently, there is a proposal for setting up a 660MW super critical power plant that will run on Indian coal. 

Normally, before setting up a power plant, there is a requirement of an EIA and a cumulative environmental impact assessment, mapping all sources of pollution within the study area (in this case, within 10 km). The EIA, pointed out Nityanand, took 216 samples within a three-month period (July-September) from nine locations in Ennore. “None of the numbers exceeded the permissible limit of PM2.5, which is 40 μg/m3. What we found curious in the report was that the PM2.5 varied only between 19.3 μg/m3 to 36.8 μg/m3, which is a very narrow range. This is hard to believe since air pollution varies daily, based on weather conditions, humidity, windspeed and other parameters. In this case, the numbers have been extrapolated. The EIA doesn’t clearly mention details such as the methodology used or other such critical information,” he explained. 

A comparison of the air quality data in the EIA and the readings recorded by the Central Pollution Control Board during the same period, clearly showed the disparity. “While TANGEDCO’s data claims that air pollution never increased beyond 36.8 μg/m3, CPCB’s data recorded readings as high as 115.46 μg/m3 in their Manali-New Town air monitoring station,” said Pooja Kumar, researcher, Coastal Resource Centre. 

The activists have asked the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to examine the original raw data to see if the numbers have been manipulated. “If there is a manipulation, the EIA is baseless and cannot be the basis for any decision making on the project,” said Nityanand. A public hearing for this project is being held on May 30. 

When the discrepancy was pointed out, an official from TANGEDCO said, “The EIA was done by Ramky Enviro Engineers and we stand by what is mentioned in the report.”

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