India | Health assessments mandatory for new thermal plants

The inclusion by the Union environment ministry of mandatory baseline health assessments and periodic health monitoring as a standard condition for all Environmental Clearances for Thermal Power Plants is a welcome first step, according to Healthy Energy Initiative, a coalition of health sector professionals, environmental groups and community organisations advocating for health-based choice of energy sources.

Health — the most important criteria of well-being — has been noticeably absent from EIA processes in India. The inclusion of health assessments is an indication that the concept of “health in all policies” is gaining ground thanks to the groundswell of public concern around deteriorating health conditions near industrial clusters in general and coal-fired thermal power plants and mines in particular.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s has now made it mandatory for all new Thermal Power Plants in the country 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.

Community groups from around the country have demanded the inclusion of health assessments in all EIAs for several years. Communities in Raigarh, Chattisgarh and Ennore, Tamil Nadu, have also carried out and submitted health studies to Expert Appraisal Committee members assessing thermal projects urging them to consider “community health” as a significant aspect for decision-making.

While the current inclusion is a good first step, it falls short of requiring a full-blown Health Impact Assessment which would give assessors a better information base for decision-making.

For more information, contact: Shweta Narayan — 8056024315. Healthy Energy Initiative


See MoEFCC’s office memorandum here –

see the Raigarh Study here –

Ennore Study Here –

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