The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has now made it mandatory for all new Thermal Power Plants in the India to comply with “Human Health and Environment” criteria as part of the mandatory clearance procedures.
Through an Office Memorandum issued on 19th November 2018, the MoEFCC mandates that a baseline health status within the study area be conducted and a report prepared along with a bi-Annual check up of all workers in the company. This is a big first step as EIA’s in India were silent on community health and occupational health and safety.
“It’s a welcome first step. Its been a long-standing demand of various communities that health be considered as an aspect of environmental clearances,” said Shweta Narayan, the coordinator at Health Energy Initiative but she adds that
“…the government shouldn’t see this as the last step… They still need to bring in a comprehensive health impact assessment along with an environmental impact assessment. While a baseline study is important, this is just the beginning. We now have higher expectations from the ministry.”
Two significant pieces of research into the health impacts of burning and mining coal informed the MOEFFs decision:
1. The Health Energy Initiative`s report:
A Community Based Phenomenological Study on the Impact of Coal Ash on Human Health in Seppakkam Village, Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu
2. Report done by medical and environmental experts on behalf of the People First Collective India: