Badarpur thermal plant,Delhi’s biggest power generator, to shut down from October 15
It is the last 10 days of operation for the Badarpur Thermal Power Station (BTPS), the national capital’s biggest power generator for over 45 years and the contributor of 11% of the deadly ultrafine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the city’s air. The coal-fired power plant, having an installed capacity of 705 MW, will be permanently shut from October 15 as the much-delayed sub-station in Tughlakabad, which was meant to take the load off the BTPS, will be ready for commissioning by the end of this month.
State-run power utility, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), on Thursday told Hindustan Times that the 400/200kV sub-station at Tughlakabad will be charged for the first time between October 15 and 20. “Stringing of the towers is over and the project is in its last leg. The sub-station will undergo its first ever test charge in the later half of this month after which it will be declared as ready for commissioning,” said a PGCIL spokesperson, adding that Union power ministry will decide when the station be formally launched.
The Tughlakabad sub-station, which was supposed to be ready last year, had been delaying the closure of the BTPS as there were no alternate lines to feed power to South Delhi areas such as Okhla, Kalkaji and South Extension, specially during peak summer.
“The Tughlakabad sub-station will make the BTPS redundant. Even on Thursday, when the peak load was over 4,600MW, the Badarpur plant generated about 333MW. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal is set to chair a meeting in a few days to chalk out the formal plan of shutting down BTPS forever,” an official of the power department said on condition of anonymity.
For the past three years, the BTPS was shut down during winter as an immediate measure to control air pollution. The same is mandated under the EPCA-mandated Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) when the air quality is ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ on the AQI scale.
The NTPC Limited, which runs BTPS, said it is already preparing for closing the plant, which is spread across 2,160 acres. Of he total land, 1,680 acres is being used only to dump flyash which is a by-product of thermal power generation.
When operational, the plant produces a mammoth 3,500 metric tonnes of flyash every month, reports from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) indicate. This means about 117 metric tonnes of flyash, a key component of the hazardous PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter causing air pollution, is released from BTPS daily.
DPCC reports accessed by HT state that the pond near the plant has at least 25.7 million metric tonnes of flyash dumped at any given point of time. This much ash is enough to build 81 Taj Mahal, as per estimates.
A study by IIT Kanpur also called the BTPS as a major contributor of pollution to Delhi’s air with nearly 11% of Delhi’s ultra-fine respirable particles or PM 2.5 being emitted by the plant. To add to it, 26% of the city’s PM 2.5 levels comprise coal and flyash which are emitted from the plant, the report states.
What’s worse is that gaseous pollutants like nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxde (SO2) that are also emitted from the plant were never accounted for in its over 40 years of operation. DPCC reports state that SO2 emissions which causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or a tight feeling around the chest has frequently been more than double of the permissible standard in the coal-based power plant.