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Orissa SPCB asks NTPC to stop power generation at 4 units in Talcher plant

Satyasundar Barik


NTPC did not make any progress with regard to fly ash disposal

At Kaniha, ash ponds if breached could have caused a disaster


BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) on Tuesday asked public sector thermal power major NTPC Limited to stop power generation at four units in its Talcher Super Thermal Power Station (TSTPS) at Kaniha in Angul district for its alleged failure to address concerns over fly ash disposal.

“We have issued closure notice for four out of total six power generating units at TSTPS. Notice was served as the company failed to put forward robust mechanism to dispose huge volume of ash being generated from its six units,” said Sidhant Das, Member Secretary of OSPCB, here.

Four ash ponds

The four units belong to NTPC's Stage II operation in which each unit generates 500 mw of thermal power annually. The TSTPS runs six units with a combined thermal power generation capacity of 3000 mw per annum.

Four ash ponds were created to dump fly ash being generated from the burning of coal.

The State pollution control board had assessed that the existing ponds would achieve its full capacity by the month of October.

“If only two units are allowed to operate, then the space left in the four ponds would take a year to be filled up. That's why we served closure notices for four units,” a top SPBC official said.

The official said the pollution control board had given three choices — raising dyke of ash pond, disposal of ash in the form of high density slurry and transportation of ash through pipeline into a mining void — to the company.

However, the company reportedly did not make any visible progress with regards to three alternatives.

Crack in ash pond

In the month May, an ash pond had developed a crack under pressure of huge volume of ash at Kaniha. Subsequently, SPCB had carried out an inspection and prepared an assessment report.

According to SPCB, ash ponds of TSTPS at Kaniha, if breached, would have caused a disaster. Besides polluting nearby Tikira River, it would damage hundreds of acres of crop lands.

Opportunities given

The company was given several opportunities to take corrective measures on its ash disposal mechanism, SPCB sources said.

Apart from some show cause notices, SPCB conducted a personal hearing on the issue.

SPCB sources said a mine void, which was about 45 km from Kaniha, was identified for the TSTPS for disposal of huge quantity of ash. But no concrete progress was made on this front. The TSTPS, according to a SPCB estimates, discharges about six lakh metric tonne of ash per month slurry into ash ponds. If power generation is halted, several States are likely to face power deficit.

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