Gopal Rai asks CPCB, Epca to shut down 11 thermal power plants around Delhi
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on Thursday said he has written to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (Epca) to shut down 11 polluting coal-fired thermal power plants operating within 300 kilometres of Delhi within a week -- a day after power minister Satyendar Jain wrote to the Union power minister over the same issue.
Addressing a press conference, Rai said the Delhi government has been making all efforts to improve air quality but pollution coming from neighbouring states into Delhi is beyond its control.
“Within a radius of 300 metres, on all four sides of Delhi, there are 11 thermal power plants, which are still functioning, and the Central government plans to give them an extension. Out of the 12, only one power plant is technologically equipped to lower pollution levels. The other 11 continue to release harmful gases,” Rai said.
According to Rai, on May 8, CPCB had said that after submitting Rs 18 lakh per month as fine, the states can continue operating the thermal power plants. “But we ask, how can these power plants be allowed to function after surpassing the deadline for two months?”
In his letter to CPCB chairperson Shiv Das Meena, Rai wrote, “These (thermal power plants) are acknowledged to be major contributors of PM 10 (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 micrometers), PM 2.5 (ultrafine particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers), sulphur dioxides, and nitrogen oxides in various studies, including the IIT Kanpur’s report.”
He added, “This failure to install pollution control measures in compliance with the deadlines are evident from the directions issued by the CPCB u/s 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 to certain power plants in the neighbouring states on May 8, demanding an environmental compensation of R18 lakh per month.”
Rai said the option of allowing these thermal units to continue polluting activities after paying a fine does not address the actual issue of pollution from the plants.
The environment minister also reached out to the Supreme Court-appointed Epca, urging the body to issue directions under section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act to halt operations in these power plants.
“The citizens of Delhi cannot continue to be penalised for the inaction of various agencies,” his letter read.
Satyendar Jain had also written to Union power minister RK Singh over the same 11 thermal power plants on Wednesday, saying these units were one of the biggest contributors to Delhi’s pollution . He said despite orders from the Supreme Court, these stations have not been shut yet.
Listing out the work done by the Delhi government to control pollution in the city, Rai said, “Delhi is the only state where petrol diesel and kerosene-run generators have been ordered to shut down. All hot spots have been ordered to have 24X7 patrolling.”
Rai also accused the central government of meting out “partial” treatment towards Delhi. He said the BJP was acting as a “mouthpiece” for other states where polluting activities such as stubble burning were ongoing, and diesel generator sets and polluting thermal power plants were continuing to operate without any checks.
During an inspection of construction sites earlier in the day, the minister directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to impose a fine of Rs 20 lakh on the public works department (PWD) for non-compliance of guidelines during the construction site of a drain along the main road in Burari.
Rai said while the government was working to keep a check on sources such as construction sites and waste burning, vehicular pollution can be controlled by a mass movement, where every citizen of Delhi can contribute.