Coal-fired power plants in Jharkhand emit 225,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide daily and the state needs to switch to clean energy as tree plantation alone cannot compensate for the environmental damage, officials said on Sunday.
Carbon dioxide is a prime agent for climate change, which experts blame for the erratic weather patterns in the state in the past few decades. Ranchi, one of the coolest cities in the state, recorded an average temperature of 40 degree Celsius in April for the first time in its history and the state saw seven droughts since its creation 16 years ago.
“Burn one gram of coal, it will emit four grams of carbon dioxide. Installed capacity of power plants in Jharkhand is around 6,000 mega watt (MW), which requires 60,000 tonnes of coal. The burning of such huge coal produces around 2.25 lakh tonne of carbon dioxide per day,” said state forest, environment and climate change (FECC) principal secretary Sukhdev Singh.
Singh said only tree plantation could not compensate the environmental loss created by the burning of coal. “We have to shift to the clean energy. In Jharkhand, solar energy contributes merely 16MW and hydel power just 60MW. While, the state has suitable environment to produce solar and wind energy,” Singh said.
Not just air, coal burning is also polluting the rivers of Jharkhand with the Damodar river being one of the biggest examples of such contamination, he said.
“There is not a single example where any polluters were convicted after creation of Jharkhand. Only fine was realized as punishment,” he said.
He suggested an industry and chamber body should set up an environment ethic committee (EEC) incorporating government officials if required. The committee should be responsible for the timely review of environment status of industries.
The forest cover in Jharkhand has increased by 950 sqkm since the creation of the state but many experts have expressed doubts over the figure, which cannot be ruled out, Singh said.
“Earlier, plantation provision was only restricted to forest area. But, we have changed the policy and included the non-forest land too to give a boost to the plantation. For this, Mukhya Mantri Jan-Van Yojana was introduced,” he added.
The state government has allocated `70 crore to promote plantation on non-forest land. More than 10 million trees will be planted this fiscal, Jharkhand minister CP Singh said.
Chief secretary Rajbala Verma said several initiatives were undertaken this year, including the construction of 600,000 farm ponds, 2,500 surface irrigation identification, mass tree plantation and checking open defecation.