Environmental impact assessment studies are increasingly undertaken before project is cleared by the government. Discuss the environmental impacts of coal-fired thermal plants located at Pitheads.

Published: January 29, 2015

EIA or environmental impact assessments are a requirement under law in many instances, hence, they have become quite common. The location of coal-fired thermal plants is subject to guidelines by the Central Electricity Authority and the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Coal mining is an activity that wreaks havoc on the land and air surrounding the mining area. The land is stripped bare, and chemicals are released into the atmosphere. The mining also causes disturbances over land, thus necessitating relocation and resettlement of the people in the areas around the mining area. Lack of connectivity and rail linkages has led to recommendations calling for location of coal-fired thermal plants at pitheads. Generation of thermal power is also another activity that has a devastating effect on the environment. The activity also requires large tracts of land, accessibility to a water source etc. and leads to water and air pollution due to discharge of effluents and fly ash. Also, building of large thermal power plants on land made unstable due to mining has its own risks. The combination of the two activities doubly and adversely affects the air, water and land quality of the region. Also, in accordance with the guidelines referred to above, there are requirements such as minimum distance from forest cover and cities etc, which have to be met with, and the Central Electricity Authority specifically recommends the avoidance of location of thermal power station in the coal-bearing area in its guidelines.

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