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To: Shri Prakash Javdekar, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Penalise polluting power plants for not sticking to the December 2019 Deadline
Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change the 33 polluting Thermal Power Plants in the National Capital Region
Why is this important?
According to a recent Right To Information (RTI) application, 33 highly polluting, coal-based Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) will continue to severely pollute the NCR region all through December this year. The NCR is the most polluted part of the country and is surrounded by a number of TPPs. These plants were supposed to have been retrofitted by December 2019 to help bring down pollution levels considerably, but these plants will miss the deadline and continue to pollute for at least a few more months to a years!
The particulate matter levels across the country are seriously high, causing serious lung-related ailments among other chronic ailments, particularly among the most vulnerable sections of society. The NCR already is grappling with the highest levels of pollution. One of the biggest polluters when it comes to air pollution is coal-based TPPs, which are concentrated in the region. While other attempts are being made to bring down pollution levels such as the use of green firecrackers or compliance with the odd-even scheme, the bigger polluters seem to be getting away scot-free!
This is the second time that the deadline to retrofit the plants and adhere to the diluted but stricter norms have been missed. The MOEFCC had notified emission standards for both nitrogen and sulphur oxides in December 2015. It had also made particulate matter emission norms stricter. The first time around, the Ministry of Power lobbied the MOEFCC and pushed the deadline to December 2017. This time again, the RTI reveals that the majority of the plants have not even gone as far as signing the tender to have the plants retrofitted with the new Flue Gas Desulphurisation systems, which would help filter out harmful SO2 gas which is one of the main contributor to PM2.5 levels in Delhi. If this is done, the pollution levels from the plants can come down from as much as 40-48 percent.
This is shocking and unacceptable. While individuals are made to toe the line and make changes in their everyday life, the Ministry of Power has been given over four years to take action on the TPPs in the NCR region. Clean air is a fundamental right, which is being violated by the Ministry of Power.
As citizens of India we urge you to ensure that the tenders of all the 33 plants in the NCR region are signed by December 2019, and the power plants are penalised for not sticking to the current deadline. Additionally, non-complying power plants should not be allowed to operate during times when air quality exceeds the ambient standards. And the MoEFCC should ensure that all other plants across the country are on track with respect to retrofitting the plants.