NGO welcomes Odisha government’s decision over policy for coal-based thermal power plants

Odisha-based NGO WIO welcomes state government’s decision to have a comprehensive policy for coal-based thermal power plants.

“We have just come across the news that the Government of Odisha is planning to formulate a comprehensive policy for coal-fired thermal power plants and captive power plants. Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) welcomes such a move as this is very timely”, says Ranjan Panda, its Convenor.

The policy, as media reports, focuses on state’s share of free power from the plants. The real issue is however far more serious. Power plant’s impacts on water and environment should form the basis of a new power policy.

He said that WIO believe that the state’s ecology will not be able to sustain the huge power the state government wants to generate. Especially because power plants use enormous amount of water, pollute sources and lead to air pollution. These impact the local communities and their livelihoods.

The Rivers and other water sources of the state are already stressed. Further, we don’t have any concrete information on the number of plants and the total generation capacity of the state.

Various government data have different estimates. Based on the ‘Draft Climate Change Action Plan’, we believe that the state is planning to generate about 58000 MW of power, mostly from coal-fired plants. For this the state has to make provision for 2297 million cubic meter of water per year at the minimum. This is enough to meet the domestic water requirement (calculated at the lowest of requirements) of close to 210 million people! There are other grave environmental dangers of coal-fired power plants including the problem of fly ash disposal and radiation.

“We at WIO therefore urge upon the state government to immediately release a ‘detailed status report’ on the existing and proposed coal-fired power plants including IPPs, CPPs and UMPPs detailing their current technology and generation status and the water used and polluted by them”, urges Panda.

“We also demand that ecological concerns and not power sharing arrangements should be the prime factor that should govern this policy which must look into the carrying capacity of the ecology of the state and have a vision for power generation. There must be a restriction on the number of power plants and the amount of power generated, and a solid monitoring at place for punishing the polluters”, said Panda.

“The government must chalk out a vision for power sector that takes into account the present and future of the state’s demand and ecological concerns. It must not go for excessive generation of power simply because there is investment and coal available. This will spell disaster for the state,” said Panda.

Panda said that, “We have observed that important policy matters in the state are not being taken to the common people for proper and thorough discussion. The precedence must be broken now for making any policy people-oriented and beneficial for the state and its ecology.” “We therefore urge upon the state government to draft the thermal power plant policy and discuss it with the people of the state giving them ample time and scope for participation”, demands Panda.

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