Fly ash still choking Buckingham Canal, backwaters, National Green Tribunal told – The Hindu

Persistent pollutant: The committee said the leakage of fly ash had become an everyday phenomenon.  
A report submitted by a Joint Committee, appointed by the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal, stated that the fly ash generated from Stages 1 and 2 of the North Chennai Ennore Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) has greatly reduced the volume of water flowing to the sea from the Buckingham Canal and its backwaters. The waterbodies had become pools of ash, the report said.
The committee found that although the leakage of fly ash was not noticed during an on-site inspection, the accumulation persisted in the backwaters and the Buckingham Canal.
“This is due to the leakage of ash slurry from ageing pipes and due to plants directly discharging the slurry into waterbodies. Livelihood of fisherfolk has been affected, and this has led to the abatement of fishing activities. Mangrove patches have vanished due to the sedimentation of fly ash deposits,” the committee submitted.
Fly ash contained several heavy and hazardous metals that percolate into the soil strata, altering groundwater potential and potability. Due to this, there was a drastic depletion of flora and fauna surrounding the Ennore Creek, the committee said. It further informed the NGT that the leakage from pipelines and accumulation of fly ash in the Buckingham Canal and the backwaters had become an everyday phenomenon, and the pollutant still remains at the sitesdespite orders from the NGT to clear it.
The committee said the pipelines of Stage 1 were commissioned in 1994-95 and had rusted, corroded and become brittle with numerous cracks. While lines 1 and 5 were replaced with second-hand pipes brought from the Ennore Thermal Power Station in August 2020, replacement of lines 2 and 3 were in progress and 50% of the work had been completed. The timeline for replacement of all five pipelines is December 2021 as mandated by the NGT, the committee said.
The committee also informed the Tribunal that the Environmental Clearance issued for the expansion project of 1 x 800 MW (Stage-III) had only granted permission for construction of certain offshore facilities and not for laying pipelines, which was a gross violation as per the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules, 2011.
While the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (Tangedco) had started laying pipelines for Stage-III, the section running across the Kosasthalaiyar had not been taken up, the committee said.
The Tangedco had stated in the Environmental Impact Assessment that 100% of bottom ash and fly ash generated from the project will be consumed by end users and piped to the ash dyke only in case of an emergency. “It must be ensured that new pipes be laid intact to avoid any leakage of ash into the waterbodies, thereby averting environmental damage,” the committee said.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2021 12:38:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/fly-ash-still-choking-buckingham-canal-backwaters-national-green-tribunal-told/article36745614.ece
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