Congress leader Jairam Ramesh accused the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests of working under the pressure from “politically powerful power producers” referring to its recent notification scrapping the mandatory requirement of washing coal and removing restrictions on distance of transport to thermal power plants.
The former Union minister of state for environment and forests, who heads the parliamentary committee on the environment, said the notification dated May 21, is a “cure worse than the disease”.
In a letter to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday, Mr. Ramesh demanded that the notification be rescinded immediately and called for consultations with stakeholders to ensure that emissions from thermal power stations are reduced as per India’s commitment.
‘Will undo progress’
The notification will “undo whatever limited progress” was made so far in reducing pollution load at coal-based power stations, he said in the letter. He further pointed out that the notification is in contravention of assurances given in Parliament and to the standing committee on coal and steel. It is also against the commitments made by India as part of the Paris agreement on climate change.
Mr. Ramesh said the Indian thermal power plants have repeatedly missed deadlines to adhere to emission norms. Washed coal helps in minimising the particulate matter emissions. This high ash content of Indian coal has been a very serious problem, and the washeries were conceived to deal with this problem. He said that India is also now the world’s largest emitter of sulphur dioxide, a fact that has not even been acknowledged, he stressed.
“The tardy progress of Coal India to set up coal washeries over the past six years as planned and stipulated cannot be the reason to give up entirely and succumb to pressure from vested interests who can only be called politically powerful power producers — 4 Ps to use the favourite language of the Prime Minister,” he said in his letter.