National Green Tribunal has warned of shutting down thermal power plants and coal mines in Singrauli and Sonebhadra areas of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for causing acute air and water pollution, asking the states whether the people there have the right to live.
NGT's sharp reaction came when it was hearing a plea alleging high levels of pollution in Singrauli and Sonebhadra where the coal mines and thermal plants are operating and the serious impact it was having on the local populace.
The green panel slammed the state governments after a committee set up by it to inspect these areas submitted that heavy industrial activities in the region were a major source of pollution. It asked the two governments to inform by the next date the steps they proposed to take to tackle the problem.
"We will shut down your thermal plants, (you) stay in dark," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
"This comprehensive report shows very serious levels of pollution in the area in question. Don't the people of that area have a right to live? You can't do this to the people. There is no monitoring of emissions at all. Much efforts are required to tackle with environment hazards that could be drastic to human health," the bench said.
The core committee, set up by the Tribunal, informed the bench that ground water in the villages near Singrauli was contaminated with high fluoride and mercury concentration.
"Signs of lung manifestations were found, suggestive of silicosis. It was also found in people residing near the coal transport roads," the report said.
It said that the level of mercury concentration in ground water was found "exceeding the limit of 0.001 mg/litre in the samples collected from Kirwani, Parasi, Harrahwa, Naktu, Sirsoti, Chilkadand, Parsavar-raja, Govindpur, Kusmaha, Khairahi, Jayant Colony, Jaitpur, MPCC colony, and Dibulganj villages."
The committee made several recommendations including the supply of safe drinking water in fluoride-affected villages under the supervision of the administration.
The tribunal was hearing a plea by advocate Ashwani Dubey opposing power projects in Singrauli and Sonebhadra districts alleging that serious ailments were being caused due to pollution from coal mining and emissions from thermal power stations.