Non-compliance of emission standard for coal plants in India leads to 76k deaths

New Delhi, Dec 10: About 76,000 premature deaths could have been averted if coal power plants in the country had implemented on time the emission standard norms notified by the Environment Ministry in 2015, according to a study by a green body.

          Based on data accessed under the Right To Information response given by the Central Pollution Control Board, Greenpeace India released an analysis Health and Environmental benefits of implementing the emission standards for coal-based TPPs on Friday.

          On the third anniversary of notification and one year since the deadline lapsed for implementing the emission standards for coal-based power plants, Greenpeace analysis highlighted India would have reduced 48 per cent of SO2, 48 per cent of NOx and 40 per cent of particulate matter emission respectively if the coal power plants had complied by the TPP emission standards.

          The green body pointed out that approximately 76,000 premature deaths could have been averted if the coal power plants in India had implemented the emission standard norms notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2015 on time.

          Out of 76,000 premature deaths, 34,000 deaths per year could have been avoided due to SO2 emissions reduction, 28,000 deaths due to NOx reduction and 15,000 deaths due to particulate matter emissions reductions, Greenpeace said in a statement.

          The deadline for complying with the emission standard norms was December 7 last year. A year has passed with very little improvement in emission control at power plants.

          Earlier this year the Supreme Court observed that the “Ministry of Power has absolutely no intention of doing anything to reduce the air pollution generated by coal-based thermal power plants” and called their plan to implement the standards by 2022 completely illusory in nature”.

          According to the report, a five-year delay in the implementation of the standards can lead up to an estimated 3.8 lakh avoidable deaths and NOx limits alone can lead in projected 1.4 lakh avoidable deaths.

          The projection has not taken into account the increase in coal-based power generation for future years.

          “Emission standards for thermal power plants were due in India over few decades, it’s unfortunate that the Ministry of Power and coal power companies are refusing to implement the rules and hiding behind false technical details,” said Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner, Greenpeace India.

          “They should understand India is facing a public health crisis due to air pollution and emission from coal power plants are a big part of that crisis.           “India should accelerate implementation of the emission standards and stop any new investment on coal and move aggressively towards renewable energy sources which are not just environment-friendly but are overall sustainable and cheaper than polluting coal,” he said.

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