10,000 signatures reached
To: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Stand your ground: Do not allow 300+ power plants to continue with extreme air pollution
UPDATE: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change told the Supreme Court that coal-based thermal plants will conform to emission norms by 2022.
The Central Electricity Authority announced that they're going to allow thermal power plants to continue polluting the air at extreme levels for another 2 to 5 years, thereby disregarding rules set by the Environment Ministry to reduce air pollution.
At a time when over 10 lakh Indians are dying each year from air pollution-related illness, this decision must not be allowed to stand. Join us in asking new Environment Minister Dr. Harsh to cancel this air pollution extension and ensure that all power plants are upgraded to the best available technology as soon as possible. This will help to dramatically reduce the pollution currently being emitted by these plants.
300+ thermal power plants must not be allowed to flout environmental regulations for another 2 - 5 years! This air pollution extension by Central Electricity Authority must be cancelled.
Why is this important?
In 2015, the Environment Ministry put in place improved pollution norms for the thermal power industry which required all the thermal plants to become more water efficient and to further reduce the pollution they spew into the air. These included toxic pollutants like sulphur oxides, nitrous oxides, mercury, and particulate matter. These important rules were set to come into force this year, but this has not yet happened.
Instead, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has disregarded the Environment Ministry's rules and has given more than 300 thermal power plants an extension on pollution.
This means that these 300+ thermal power plants can flout environment regulation for the next 2 - 5 years! And continue polluting India's air at extremely high levels!
Sulphur dioxides (SOx) and Nitrogen dioxides (NOx) are toxic gases hazardous when inhaled. Inhalation of these gases may cause or worsen respiratory diseases, such as asthma or bronchitis, or may also aggravate existing heart disease. The asthma cases in India are already on the rise -- doctors claim that they are now seeing a rise of 60-70 per cent in ailment cases related to pollution.
To meet the new pollution norms for SOx the plants are required to install a technology called, flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) which helps remove sulphur dioxide from the exhaust gases of fossil-fuel power plants. Even though the industry had a two year window period to install the required technology, most of the industry began arguing back with the government against the rules once they had been officially notified.
High levels of toxic air pollution are a problem plaguing most parts of India for several years now. And thermal power plants are a major contributor to SOx and NOx levels in the country.
A recent study found that coal-based thermal power plant clusters were responsible for more than 75% of total SO2 emissions in all 23 Indian states they analysed, and for more than 90% in 16 Indian states.
With over 300 thermal power plants allowed to flout environmental rules for another 2 - 5 years, it will lead to an increase in air pollution levels across the country. Centre for Science and Environment estimates that about 45% of the SOx pollution from the industrial sector comes from thermal power plants.
We need to make sure that the environment ministry stands their ground and cancels the extension given by the CEA immediately!