Fly ash released from the Panipat thermal power plant of the Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited has affected the ambient air, human health, groundwater, air quality and agriculture in the nearby villages, revealed the interim report of a joint committee formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The report submitted with the NGT on January 17 revealed that qualitative damage has been caused to the environment and public health. It has suggested that the detailed investigation to generate extensive data is required for quantification of the affected area and quantitative damage caused to the environment and public health by involving subject experts.
Farmers have said that the visible impact of fly ash of the Panipat thermal power plant can be observed in the area especially from March to July, and it becomes difficult to breath during this period. The farmers had alleged most people in the area are suffering from skin, eye and respiratory problems.
The impact on the ambient air quality was also revealed in the report as the results of the parameters PM10 and PM2.5 were found to be exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) at all locations with the PM10 concentration ranging between 330 to 396 against the standard, while the PM2.5 concentration ranging between 109 to 167 against the standard.
The fine particulate matter was ranging between 130 to 167 against the standard 60 UG/M3. Nickel concentration in the ambient air was found to be exceeding at three locations ranging between 25 to 43 in 24-hours against the standard annual average of 20. Groundwater sampling was conducted at seven locations from borewells upstream and downstream of the Panipat thermal power plant ash dyke.
The microbiological parameters were found to be exceeding in six borewells and this needs further investigation to find out the root cause and remedial action, reveals the report.
The soil samples from five locations of the study area were drawn and analysed and it was observed from the analyses of the soil samples that concentration of chromium, chopper nickel and zinc is on a much higher side in comparison of the target values of this heavy metal in soil specified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Further, the report also revealed the impact of fly ash on the plant and seeds as analysis of the samples of paddy plant and seed grown on the soils indicate “very high” concentration for heavy metals for heavy metals-specific to thermal power plant fly as chromium, copper, nickel and zinc when compared with the target values of these heavy metals for the plant specified by the WHO, it mentioned.
Panipat chief medical officer’s office, in its report submitted to the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) revealed that 91 cases of respiratory tract infection, 87 of hypertension, 35 of cardiac diseases, 32 of cancer, 44 of skin diseases, and 42 of eye diseases were reported in five villages – Assan Kalan, Khukhrana, Jattal, Untla and Sutana from 2016 to 2021.
On the efforts being made to decrease the impact of fly ash, HSPCB member secretary S Naryanan said this report has been submitted by the joint committee to the NGT and will take necessary action as per the legal provisions against the lapses.
“We will examine the deficiencies on the board-level and initiate action as deemed fit,” he added.
On the other hand, Panipat thermal power plant executive engineer Jit Singh said two units of the power plant were operational and they are following the guidelines issued for management of fly ash. He said more efforts will be made for compliance of the NGT orders.