Indian coal-based thermal power plants are some of the most inefficient in the world, noted a two-year-long research study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Conducted under CSE’s Green Rating Project (GRP), the study is the first of its kind done for this industrial sector by evaluating its environmental performance and compliance.
Explaining the study released by M.S. Swaminathan, the ‘father’ of India’s Green Revolution, here on Saturday, CSE director general Sunita Narain said: “The objective of the study was to give a clear picture of the environmental performance of the sector.”
“Our finding is that in India, where the demand for power is increasing, power plants are performing way below the global benchmarks. Given the rapid increase in coal-based power projected by the government, stress on precious resources like water and land will increase and air and water pollution will worsen, unless corrective measures are taken by the industry and policy-makers,” she noted.
Also present at the release was Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change secretary Ashok Lavasa, and chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian.
The plants were rated on around 60 parameters covering everything from coal and water use and plant efficiency to air and water pollution and ash management. Local community views and impact on them were given due weightage along with the plants’ compliance record and environment policies. The ratings involve comparing the performance of the plants against the best practices.
Priyavrat Bhati, programme director of CSE’s Sustainable Industrialisation team (which is behind the project), said: “The most striking part of the ranking is that 20 plants did not get a single leaf, which is a reflection of their particularly poor environmental performance. Some of the plants did not want to participate. Yet, we assessed them on the basis of field-level surveys and publicly available data.” He added: “We were encouraged by the transparency showed by a number of State-owned plants that disclosed data despite being inefficient and highly polluting.”