The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur report for the Chhattisgarh government on pollution in Korba had come under the scanner with environment activists pointing several flaws in the research.
The report had facilitated the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to grant clearances for more power projects in Korba -- ranked fifth in the ‘critically polluted area’ category among 88 industrial clusters.
The district, emerging as the power hub of the mineral-rich state, presently produces over 7000-Mw power and has a potential for 16,000-Mw.
Following the high level of pollution, the ministry in January 2010 banned granting permission for new power project in Korba -- about 250 km from the state capital.
The state-run Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) designed and launched “Development of Comprehensive Environment Pollution Abatement Action Plan for Critically Polluted Korba Area”. The state government gave the presentation that the action plan had resulted in bringing down the pollution level.
Based on the state government’s report, the MoEFCC lifted the ban in September 2013. The state government later assigned IIT-Kharagpur to study the pollution level in Korba to substantiate its claim. The institute conducted the study and research from May 2014 to December 2014 and submitted its report that pollution level in Korba had come down.
“But there are many flaws in the method with which the IIT-Kharagpur conducted the study,” Laxmi Chouhan, Director of Korba-based Non Government Organisation Sarthak, said.
Under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (NAAQM), 12 parameters needed to be covered in the study, he said, adding that the IIT team worked on only three parameters. Samples were collected only from seven locations despite 15 power plants, 13 coal mines, seven washeries and aluminium facility are located across the vast area of Korba.
Chouhan said he would move to the court of law to challenge the report. The IIT-Kharagpur could not be contacted but the state authorities denied any flaw in the report.
“We have cross verified the report and there was no error,” CECB Member Secretary Devendra Singh told Business Standard. The Board was ready to examine any flaw brought to its notice, he added.