NTPC’s commitment to the protection of the environment and maintaining the ecological balance is second to none. One of the main thrust areas in this mission is afforestation on a gigantic scale. NTPC undertakes massive afforestation programmes covering vast tracts of land in and around its projects in a concerted bid to counter the growing ecological threat. The company has planted 20 million trees till date in and around its projects. Each tree on an average offsets 50 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
The crucial need for conservation and restoration of the degraded ecosystem and preservation of genetic resources of the country led to the enactment of the ‘Wild Life Protection Act’ (1974) and ‘Forest Act’ (1980) in addition to legal acts on air, water and environment.
NTPC has been carrying out its business activities with a deep sense of responsibility towards protecting the environment. It has been possible to achieve a satisfactory combination of environmental quality and techno-economics through determined efforts at NTPC. Continuous vigilance is maintained to minimise pollution at all levels.
The afforestation project at any plant, township, green-belt and other site begins only after in-depth research and study is carried out based on the local geography. Species are selected on the basis of their adaptability and grouped with local representatives. The growth characteristics, flowering pattern and canopy (spreading nature) are evaluated in their distribution over these sites of afforestation. Our afforestation efforts not only add to India’s green cover and oxygen bank but also perform the role of ‘sinks’ for the polluting emissions from the stations etc.
The extensive green cover created along with water reservoirs and lakes attract a wide variety of fauna including birds. In the case of three projects (Kahalgaon, Badarpur and Unchachar), wildlife sanctuaries were declared near the projects by the Ministry of Environment and Forests after they were accorded environmental clearance. These are:
Kahalgoan Station – Stretch of River Ganga adjacent to the project was declared a sanctuary by the state government.
Badarpur Station – Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary
Unchachar Station – Samaspur Bird Sanctuary
NTPC has an independent Horticulture Department at its projects headed by experienced horticulture officers / supervisors.
Saving existing trees, planting right at the beginning of construction phase, upkeep of the trees and advice from State Forest Departments and agricultural universities are a few general guidelines followed by NTPC.
An innovative proposal to create ‘Forest Banks’ in each state was initiated, wherein the Forest Department of all States / Union Territories would identify land to start plantations under various programmes of the state. Such areas would facilitate any power project of either the state or centre to draw necessary compensatory ‘Afforestation Area’ against the existing balance in the Forest Bank.