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India could have averted 76,000 deaths: "Failure" to comply by 2015 emission norms

Counterview Desk
On the third anniversary of notification (December 7) and one year since the deadline lapsed for implementing the emission standards for coal based power plants, a Greenpeace India analysis has 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, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC in 2015) on time.

A Greepeace note based on its analysis:

Based on data accessed under Right To Information response given by the Central Pollution Control Board, Greenpeace India released an analysis -- Health & Environmental benefits of implementing the emission standards for coal-based TPPs. The analysis highlights that India would have reduced 48% of SO2, 48% of NOx and 40% of PM emission respectively if the coal power plants had complied by the TPP emission standards.
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 PM emissions reductions.
The deadline for complying with the emission standard norms was December 7th 2017. 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.
Says Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner, Greenpeace India:
“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. 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.” 
Greenpeace India urges MoEFCC to pull up erring thermal power plants and hold them accountable for the pollution they are causing. All thermal power plants must comply with emission standards and no new thermal power plants should be built to ensure a smooth energy transition.
To enhance the accountability and compliance the progress for retrofitting the power plants should be made available to public maintaining the transparency of actions taken by various authorities with respect to the new timeframe scheduled for the power plants.

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