Coal pollution could kill 5,280 in Delhi over 10 years: Report
Among the megacities in the country, residents of Delhi are the worst affected by coal pollution which could result in nearly 5,280 premature deaths in the national capital over the next decade, a new research report by the C40 Cities, a network of the megacities across the globe committed to addressing the climate crisis, has found.
The report released on Wednesday said nearly 12% of India’s coal-generated electricity is generated within 500km of the national capital.
The report said that pollution from coal-fired power plants travels long distances and the concentration levels is a major health risk, especially to vulnerable categories like children, senior citizens and pregnant women.
“PM2.5 (particulate matter of diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) annual concentration in Delhi is more than nine times the World Health Organization guidelines, and more than twice the national guideline. Current national plans will expand the coal fleet by 28% between 2020 and 2030, not reduce it by 20%, threatening the health and well-being of the urban residents in Delhi while undermining India’s climate and air quality targets,” said Dr Rachel Huxley, head of knowledge and research, C40.
The report claimed that the current plan to expand India’s coal-based power by 64 GW will nearly double the number of annual premature deaths -- 5,280 premature deaths over the next decade -- from air pollution in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai Wednesday addressed the ‘Strategic State Environment Ministerial Dialogue of C40 Cities’ and shared the measures being taken by the city government for sustainable development without compromising on environmental goals, PTI reported.
PTI quoted officials and said Rai shared the steps taken by the city government to “ensure sustainable development without compromising on environmental goals.” Rai will on Thursday hold a meeting with resident welfare associations, NGOs and eco-clubs in the city on the government’s pollution control measures.
The C40 research suggests exposure from coal power plants will result in 5.5 million sick days and the proposed coal capacity expansion and subsequent pollution will entail health costs of around US$ 8.4 billion in the next decade.
The report also suggested that the government can create 226,000 energy jobs by 2030 by retiring the oldest and least competitive coal plants and investing in solar and wind energy to supply Delhi with renewable electricity.
“A transition to clean energy is not only critical for Indian cities to reduce air pollution, improve residents’ health and deliver on climate targets aligned to Paris Agreement, but also to create jobs,” Shruti Narayan, regional director C40, south and west Asia.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment, said, “Studies in the past too have highlighted how long range pollution sources hit Delhi’s air and that is why we need a larger air shed management plan for the entire region. But apart from this, we also need to recognise the damage that coal-fired plants have on human health. Existing rules need to be made more stringent.”