The study, commissioned by Greenpeace, by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), assessing the impact of coal power plants in the Wardha river basin found that 71 new projects have been given clearance while four are already running.
"It is not clear on what basis the state government of Maharashtra took the decision to divert more than 390 million cubic metres from Vidarbha's reservoirs between 2003 and 2011. This diversion of water, without any assessment of its impact on irrigation and environmental flows, needs immediate reconsideration," said Greenpeace campaigner Jai Krishna.
According to Greenpeace, the central government has accorded environmental clearances for almost 200 gigawatts (GW) of thermal power plants and about 500GW of clearances are in the pipeline.
"The total clearances that might be accorded (700GW) is seven times more than power generation capacity proposed to be added by the 12th Five-year Plan," he said.
Greenpeace recommends an immediate moratorium on further environment clearances to coal power plants in Vidarbha, and the existing clearances must be examined on the basis of a cumulative water impact.