NGT directs Centre to file reply on plea against notification on use of coal with higher ash content

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New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal on Friday granted one more opportunity to the Centre to file response on a plea against a notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) which allowed thermal power plants the use of coal with higher ash content than permitted earlier.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that no response has been filed by the MoEF and the ministries of mines, power and coal even after nine months.

“We give one more opportunity and direct that necessary response may be filed within one month failing which concerned joint Secretaries of MoEF and Ministries of Mines, Power and Coal may remain present in person by video conferencing to show cause as to why adverse action be not taken for their failure, in accordance with law,” the bench said, adding that the response may be filed by e-mail.

The NGT asked the secretaries of the four ministries to ensure the response is filed within the stipulated time.

The Central Pollution Control Board may file further response about the impact of the impugned policy on the environment, the green tribunal said while posting the matter for hearing on August 18.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO 'Say Earth' against the May 21, 2020 notification issued by the MoEF under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, permitting the use of coal with ash content higher than permitted earlier which is causing damage to the environment.

The environment ministry in May last year decided that it will no longer regulate the ash-content of coal used by thermal power plants.

It issued a notification that overturned its January 2014 regulation that made it mandatory for all coal-based power plants located 500 km or more from the pit-head or coal mine to use raw or blended or beneficiated coal with no more than 34 per cent ash content.

Under the new notification, thermal power plants will be able to use coal irrespective of ash content and will be liable for proper disposal of coal ash and meeting emission standards set by the apex pollution monitoring body.

The CPCB in its response before the NGT said that the policy being within the purview of the ministries, it had nothing to say in the matter. PTI PKS SA

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