CHENNAI: In a major setback to the proposal of State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) Ltd, the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone) has suspended the environmental clearance provided to create an industrial park near Pulicat Bird Sanctuary in Tiruvallur district.
The bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and Dr Satyagopal Korlapati, in its order, said that environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change for the Industrial Park is suspended till further studies and appraisal. The tribunal directed the Ministry to collect fresh baseline data so as to assess the impact of the project in the project area and neighbouring villages.
Some residents from nearby villages approached the tribunal against the environmental clearance and pointed out that the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) prepared a guideline for notifying eco-sensitive zones around Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. The villagers pointed out that the proposed park is within 5.5 kilometres from the sanctuary. The proposed site is reportedly a Ramsar protected area.
They pointed out that there are villages situated near the area and the existence of those villages was not mentioned and the impact of the project on agricultural land was also not assessed. The baseline data was taken only for one month that too for a few hours on two days and that will not represent the entire year Ambient Air Quality.
While pronouncing the order, the Tribunal observed that "at the time when the public hearing was conducted, there was nothing mentioned about the Pulicat Lake and public were not aware of the mitigation measures taken by the project in proponent this regard and if this was brought to the notice of the public at that time, they could have even raised the question of establishment of the unit which is expected to be housed viz., Red Category industry."
The Tribunal also said that the impact assessment conducted by the project proponent is not proper and further they should not have relied on the baseline data collected by the earlier consultant.
As per the direction of the Tribunal, the ministry should take a fresh baseline data that has to be collected for one season and secondary data will have to be collected for the remaining period so as to assess the impact of the project in the project area and the neighbouring villages.
"Consider the groundwater table in the neighbouring areas by conducting proper hydrological study and thereafter, provide necessary mitigation measures to reduce the impact of the project," the direction said.