The National Environment Appellate Authority on 17-11-2009 stayed the Environment Clearance granted to the 1200 MW Athena Thermal Power Plant at village Singhtari Tehsil Dabhra District Janjgir Champa, Chattisgarh. The decision came as a result of the Appeal filed by Jan Chetana and the "Villagers of Singhatarai" who challenged the environmental clearance on the ground that the Ministry of Environment and Forest approved the project without considering the fact that the Public Hearing held on 15.01.2009 was cancelled by the chairperson in view of the documents not being made available to the affected public and the procedure as contemplated in the EIA Notification was not followed. There was nothing on record to show that the Expert Appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests took note of the concerns expressed by the people and even took note of the decision of the chairperson (additional Collector) to declare the hearing null and void.
The NEAA went through the video recording of the Public Hearing for over an hour which was provided by Jan Chetana and was convinced that there was discrepancy in what was recorded in the minutes of the public hearing and what was spoken in public by the A.D.M. Janjgir-Champa S.K.Chand. The video recording clearly showed large scale opposition of the public to the project.
The Expert Appriasal Committee has been directed to look into the public hearing proceedings and take a decision. The NEAA stated that the Environmental Clearance could not have been granted without following the due procedure prescribed in the EIA Notification, 2006.
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