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The reopening of Badarpur thermal power plant, scheduled for tomorrow, will be a "setback" to the efforts in reducing public health crisis associated with air pollution, Greenpeace India said today.
It also termed the decision as "wrong" from environmental and economic point of view.
The coal-based Badarpur power plant will reopen on March 15, the Supreme Court appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) had earlier said while lifting a raft of measures implemented under the 'severe' air category of the graded response plan.
"The news (about reopening of the power plant) is a big setback to the efforts and progress made towards reducing public health crisis associated with air pollution," Sunil Dahiya, campaigner of Greenpeace India said.
"Badarpur power plant is the largest single air pollutant emission source within the capital city and the power plant was shut down in November 2016 due to pollution problem. The decision to reopen the power station is a really wrong from environmental, economic and overall sustainability perspective," he said.
Sources said NTPC was awaiting clearance from Delhi Pollution Control Committee to start the plant.
He highlighted the power plant's polluting nature and the annual generation target of 2017-18 by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and the actual generation by the power plant which points towards "in-efficient" utilisation or functioning of the plant.
Dahiya argued that allocation from central sector power stations, without supply from Badarpur power plant, is more than enough to cater to Delhi's peak demands.
"It is wiser to use power from green and less polluting sources rather that from pollution guzzlers," he said.
The Greenpeace India campaigner said power from Badarpur station is much more costlier than the rate at which power is available from central grid and therefore purchasing power from central grid makes sense from economic perspective.
Dahiya said it "does not make any sense" to restart the polluting power station and run it at a Power Load Factor (PLF) which is not even economically viable.
"The falling prices of solar and wind energy are a promising way forward and motivation to move away from polluting, expensive and health damaging fuel of the past to a new, cleaner and renewable power generation. We should allow that transition to happen by not sticking with fuel and technological choices of the past," he said.
He said Badarpur is just one example of the larger
problem the country is facing with respect to the increasing cost, underutilisation and high pollution from coal-based power generation.
To regulate the emissions from Thermal Power Plants (TPPs), the government in 2015 came up with progressive rules for old and new TPPs to reduce the impact on public health.
"Unfortunately, there is hardly any progress in implementation of the rules from thermal power producers and the Environment Ministry. The nodal agency has shown little interest in enforcing its own rules," Dahiya said.
A recent study by IIT Kanpur clearly articulated the need to reduce emissions from thermal power plants to as far as 300 km from Delhi to bring down air pollution in the city.
"Reopening Badarpur thermal power plant when is makes hardly any economic, environmental or public health sense and not implementing the rules for power plant emissions only shows the we are still showing symbolism towards solving the public health crisis," he said.