An independent report into a huge coal power station being built in energy-starved India on Tuesday called for construction to be halted immediately due to environmental damage.
The Tata Mundra plant in the western state of Gujurat was approved by the government in 2006 and, when completed, will provide 4,000-megawatts of power to 16 million people across the fast-developing country.
But the reports' authors, headed by retired Chief Justice of Sikkim S.N. Bhargava, said the government and project leaders had "ignored or willfully neglected the social and environment high costs" of building the plant.
During fieldwork at the site, researchers found water pollution damaging fishing, undeclared destruction of mangrove forests, herdsmen forced off their land and communities who had lost their livelihoods without compensation.
The government and international financial backers had "failed to monitor the project closely and did almost nothing to prevent the enormous damage it is causing to flora and fauna, and the people", Bhargava said.
India is under pressure to increase energy supply as the country of 1.2 billion people undergoes rapid modernisation.
The plant at Mundra is one of a series of large power stations that the government plans to build in Gujurat and elsewhere to use domestic and imported coal supplies.
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank group and one of the project's backers, has said that if India is to sustain growth levels it must double energy generation to 160,000 megawatts within 10 years.
The Indian government did not react immediately to the report.
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