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Bhopal City
NGT orders to test ground water in Malanjkhand copper project
30-10-2015

Bhopal: National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to test ground water in 10 kms radius in the Malanjkhand copper project (MCP) of Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL).

HCL is a PSU under Ministry of Mines while Malanjkhand mining area in Balaghat is the single largest copper deposit of India with nearly 70% of the country's reserve. The mining area in Balaghat also contributes around 80% to HCL's total copper production.

NGT bench also ordered director of Kanha National Park to provide permission for collecting samples from tube wells and other sources within and in vicinity of the sanctuary. Malanjkhand copper deposit, located 20 km away from the Kanha National Park.

On Friday, water analysis of 3 km radius done by CGWA was submitted that showed concentration of NO3 more than permissible limits. Likewise the prescribed BIS limits also showed that ground water was slightly acidic in nature as also iron content in water was found to be higher.

However, it was contended that these could be attributable to use of fertilizers and chemicals and not to any mining activities by Hindustan Copper Ltd in Malanjkhand area. Also, in areas where agricultural operations were not carried out, may also be taken into account as possibility of high NO3 is attributable sometimes to runoff from agriculture fields where chemical fertilizers are extensively used.

Thereafter, NGT bench comprising judicial member Justice Dalip Singh and expert member AR Yousuf ordered for extending the sample area to 'rule out any other possibility'.

 

MPPCB submitted their data for water analysis between January 2014 to September 2015. However, it was submitted that since the project proponent must have submitted the base line data for appraisal, they may be directed to submit the same to CGWA as well as t MPPCB and file a copy before the tribunal for comparative assessment as to whether there has been any significant change as a result of HCL's activities.

HCL's counsel submitted that in 2013 NEERI had also undertaken sample testing for preparing a report and extract of the said report may be relevant for comparison following which NGT asked for its submission along with a copy to CGWA and MPPCB.

In addition to the above, NGT further directed that CGWA to again carry out analysis of water samples from locations from where such samples were earlier. Meanwhile, MPPCB was directed to physically verify whether allegation of discharge from tailings dam of HCL into the Banjar river has any merit. Tailings dam is built for storing mine waste and water from the milling process.

MPPCB was also asked to carry out water analysis of Banjar river at three different locations upstream and downstream from the tailings dam at a distance of 2-3 kms each.