Order of the Supreme Court regarding Sipat Super Thermal Power Station, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, 21/07/2020

  • 21/07/2020

Order of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd Vs Rashmi Singh & Others dated 21/07/2020.

This appeal arises from a judgment of the National Green Tribunal dated 27 February 2020 on Sipat Super Thermal Power Station located at Sipat in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh.

The NGT had issued two directions for compliance by the National Thermal Power Corporation:

(i) The installation of an Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) plant within six months; and

(ii) Ensuring that all railway wagons transporting coal are covered with tarpaulin.

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General, submits that the process for installing the FGD plant has already commenced. However, it has been submitted that the Central Pollution Control Board had on 11 December 2017 granted time for compliance until 31 December 2022 for Units 1 and 2 and until 31 December 2021 for Units 3 to 5. It has been submitted that it was physically impossible to complete the process within a period of six months which would expire in August 2020.

Ritwick Dutta appearing on behalf of the respondents, submitted that the notification dated 7 December 2015 provided an outer time-line of two years for all thermal power plants to effect compliance. The CPCB, finding that there was non-compliance, issued a communication dated 11 December 2017 granting time until 31 December 2022 for Units 1 and 2 and 31 December 2021 for Units 3 to 5.

On the aspect of tarpaulin covers, the Solicitor General stated that the NTPC was coordinating with the Ministry of Railways and the process would be completed in one month. Ritwick Dutta on the other hand submitted that the Environmental Clearance was granted in 1999 and it has taken an inordinately long period of twenty years to effect compliance.

Having regard to the communication which has been issued by the CPCB on 11 December 2017 granting time for compliance in regard to the installation of the FGD plant until 31 December 2022 for Units 1 and 2 and 31 December 2021 for Units 3 to 5, respectively, the SC extended time for compliance so as to be in accord with the timelines which have been indicated in the communication of the CPCB. Accordingly, time is extended until 31 December 2022 for Units 1 and 2 and 31 December 2021 for Units 3 to 5, respectively.

Time to complete the process of ensuring that all wagons are covered with tarpaulin sheets is extended by a period of one month.

The appellant must take all appropriate steps within the period which has been extended for installing the FGD plant to the satisfaction of the NGT. The appellant shall submit quarterly progress reports to the NGT so as to facilitate compliance being monitored. Since the proceedings are to be listed before the NGT on 28 July 2020, the SC directed that on that date an affidavit should be filed by the appellant setting out the concrete steps which had been taken and which should be taken hereafter to effect compliance.