Hyderabad: In all planning of power plants such as the gamut of thermal power plants proposed in Krishnapatnam and the nuclear power plant proposed in Kovvada, there is no estimate of the environmental cost, which means the impact on environment — money spent on treating diseases, depolluting water bodies, loss of agriculture resulting in food crisis, etc.
While the world over stresses on the environmental cost, and the long term impact on ecology and human life, mega projects like the nuclear power plant with a proposed budget of Rs 10,0000 crores do not talk about it. Experts say that the reason is that pollution control boards do not have a mandate to make such estimates as done in other countries.
Moreover, the APPCB has never, till date, struck down any project (industry or power plants) based on the impact that it may be causing on the environment as per data. The Environment Protection Act, for example, does not have any mandatory clause for the estimation of the environmental impact of any proposed power project. “It is true that there is no estimation of the environmental cost when any proposal is made to the AP Pollution Control Board.
Generally once the environmental impact assessment is done, an environment management plan is worked out to handle the impact. No epidemiological studies are done to quantify the loss to the environment and human health as is done in some advanced countries,” points out social scientist from the APPCB, Dr. Prasanna Kumar.
In fact, in some parts of Europe and US, the term DALY (Disease Adjusted Life Years) features prominently in project proposals. Impact on human health, loss to crops, forest cover and impact of drying up of water bodies are also quantified in terms of money.
Dr. Sagar Dhara, as a member of the EIA task force set up by the Planning Commission to reform the environment impact assessment suggested in 2006 that the EIA should be passed through environmental costing as a criteria.
He said, “A risk standard for acceptable carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic toxic risks, allowable ecological footprint (eco-footprint) standard, area vulnerability standard, conflict potential standard and an allowable cost to the environment standard should be made.” However, these aspects are totally unheard of in pollution control boards across the country.