Corporates and Environment

Polluting Coal

Polluting Coal

- Dr. Susan Sharma

When it comes to fighting industry pollution, most of us are like the sleeping owl.   Close your eyes against realities but open them only in the night, when you can see what you want to see - food.

When Centre for Science and Environment brought out their green ratings for the coal industry,  the audience in the packed room listened to a well researched and field based analysis of India's thermal power stations.  With State pollution control boards understaffed to monitor performance, power plants routinely flout norms ; nevertheless the plants almost always report compliance.  Is it a surprise then that NTPC, the biggest of them all refused to be scrutinized by CSE, citing compliance of norms?  

Coal based electricity entails heavy costs on the environment, resources and health.   It is responsible for significant emissions of harmful particulate matter, in addition to discharge of coal ash which needs to be recycled/disposed off safely as it has toxic heavy metals.  NTPC's Badarpur Power Station is spread over 874 hectares, of which 362 hectares has been used to dispose of waste.  

JSEB Patratu, had an unacceptably high emission of CO2.  The effluent bearing oil and ash from JSEB, Patratu flows into the River Nalkari.

Photo Sanjeev Kanchan 

In sharp contrast,   CESC, Budge Budge in West Bengal, who earned a three leaf rating from CSE, uses 76 per cent of total ash for cement and bricks.  The plant sells its fly ash to cement manufacturers in Bangladesh. 

CESC, Budge Budge, supplies dry ash directly into barges to send it to cement plants in Bangladesh (Photo: Sanjeev Kanchan)

JSWEL-TORANAGALLU POWER plant in Karnataka and TATA-TROMBAY POWER plant also qualified for three green leaves.  

Sanjoy Chakraborti,  Executive Director at Budge Budge said " We consider environment protection as an integral part of our power generation process".  He said revenue started improving after they started recycling and reusing waste with environment protection in mind.  

Sanjoy Chakraborti of Budge Budge
Sanjay Sagar, Joint Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, JSW Energy Limited said how proud the team at his company feels when people say theirs is a power unit set in a resort, a compliment to the intensive tree plantation efforts made by them in  the factory compound.

Coal based power plants generated 173 million tonnes of ash in 2013-14.  Given the grave risks ash poses, Union Environment Ministry has set a target of 100% ash utilization from 2014 on wards.

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