Compensations due: A joint panel comprising experts from CPCB and IIT-Roorkee have recommended hefty fines on NTPC and Essar Power for two incidents of breached ash dykes in Singrauli last year | Photo:

Expert committee recommends imposing huge fines on NTPC, Essar Power for ash dyke breaches in Singrauli

The disastrous twin breaches of toxic ash dykes at two large coal plants in Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli district will cost the owners NTPC and Essar Power ₹104 crore and ₹7.35 crore respectively. The two have already paid an interim fine of Rs10 crore. The latest fine was assessed by a joint panel of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, which gave its loss and damage report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 

The companies have paid for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ash clean-up operations and water pollution. GHG emissions were computed from fuel burnt in the clean-up operations of spilled ash, total diesel used, density and weight of diesel. Specific carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from diesel were used to estimate total CO2 emissions during clean-up operations, according to reports.

The water pollution cost accounted for the quantum of water polluted from the discharge of ash slurry. The amount of suspended solids build-up due to ash slurry was also assessed. The breach occurred because of the increased volume of water in the ash pond following heavy rain, the report stated

Govt retrofits ACs with filters to improve indoor air quality, avert COVID-19 in govt offices

To avert the risk of COVID-19 and improve the indoor air quality inside government buildings, India launched the initiative titled Retrofit of Air-conditioning to Improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency (RAISE). Conducted by state agency Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), the programme invites bids for installing almost 3.7 million filtration systems to be fitted with air-conditioners and ventilation equipment in government offices.  

The government has exempted medium and small-scale enterprises from the payment of earnest money deposit, EMD and bid processing fee. The scheme is part of EESL’s initiative to improve indoor air quality in partnership with the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Maitree program. In June, the agency ran a pilot retrofit project with installations of a network of air quality monitoring systems and found “dramatic improvement” in the air quality in offices with “over 90-95%” reduction in pollutants, Mercom reported.

Telangana’s Singareni coal mines under green court scanner

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought a detailed report on the impact of Singareni coal mines on the air and soil quality of the region in Telangana’s Khammam district, which has damaged the health of the people living near the mines. A team of the district collector of Khammam, a senior officer of environment ministry, a senior officer of Telangana pollution control board and a senior officer from the department of mining and geology have been ordered to inspect the area and submit a report by November 9. 

A previous investigation by the Union ministry of environment had found that the coal mines had damaged the environment. A similar investigation by the district collector had also found the Singareni coal mines responsible for damaging air and soil quality of the region, but business continued as usual. 

Power minister vows to get India to move to electric cooking 

In a move that is expected to reduce indoor air pollution and cut emissions, India’s power minister RK Singh said the government is planning to introduce electric cooking “in a big way” to Indian households. 

This will also help reduce import of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), India’s main cooking fuel. India is the world’s second-largest importer of LPG. The power minister said the shift will also make cooking affordable for the poor. India’s planning body Niti Aayog had introduced the idea in 2017, but it didn’t take off then because the power supply was still patchy in rural areas, ET reported. Now the power connections are much widely available and there’s a surplus generation capacity, the government claimed.

After Europe, makers of Merc to pay $1.5 bn fine in the US over pollution cheat device 

The makers of Mercedes-Benz, German car company Daimler, will pay $1.5 billion to resolve the US government’s claims that it designed its diesel vehicles to cheat air pollution tests. The firm had installed software to evade emissions laws in 250,000 Mercedes cars and vans.

Daimler denied the charges, but said they were resolving these proceedings to avoid lengthy court actions with respective legal and financial risks. Apart from the $1.5 billion settlement with US authorities, Daimler will also pay $700 million to car owners.

In 2018, Daimler recalled more than 700,000 vehicles in Europe that had “defeat devices” installed. BMW and Porsche have also recalled cars over cheat devices.

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