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Kopili water’s acidity due to coal mining: experts
Correspondent SHILLONG, NOV 18:
Published on 19 Nov. 2009 12:38 AM IST
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Widespread ‘rat-hole’ coal mining in Meghalaya has not only jeopardized the ecological system, but also affected the Kopili hydro power project. Several experts and scientists from across the country on Wednesday went into a huddle here and said that the acidity of the reservoir water of the Kopili power project was mainly due to unscientific coal mining in Meghalaya’s Jaintia hills district. State-owned North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), which is operating the 275 MW power project, said the life-span of the reservoir might not be reduced if the acidity water is tackled at the earliest. The experts and scientists suggested that the acidity of the reservoir water could be reduced by treating the catchment areas of the Kopili power project, besides using of limestone’s to neutralise the acidity of water. “It is not only Kopili project, but Myntdu Leshka power project (in Meghalaya) was the eye-opener to the acidic environment of the project area due to unscientific coal mining,” Central Soil and Material Research Station (CSMRS) Director, Murari Ratnam said. Similarly, he said, the acidity of the reservoir water of the Kopili is also due to unscientific mining of coal near the catchment areas. Suggesting for an “integrated approach” to sort out the acidic nature of water, Prof. KG Bhattacharya, a Chemist at the Gauhati University said that the problem should be sorted out as it will affect the natural balance on the people residing at the downstream. “Streams flowing with acidity waters must be identified and immediate water treatment should carry out to neutralise it,” he said. Environmentalist Dr OP Singh, who has carried out a study and implication of “rat-hole” coal mining in Jaintia hills district said that the present crsis could be resolve only through scientific coal mining and reclamation of the coal mines areas. ‘’We are concerned with the present crisis of Kopili plant owing to the acidic nature of the reservoir water,’’ NEEPCO Chairman and Managing Director IP Barooah said. He said the acidity of the reservoir water has seriously affected the performance of plant and erosion of underwater parts of the generating units. The Kopili power project, located in Assam’s North Cachar Hills District, bordering Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district has contributed around 20,000 million units of energy is feeding the seven North Eastern states barring Sikkim.

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