‘100,000 early deaths from India coal emissions’

Emissions from coal-fired power stations caused an estimated 100,000 early deaths in India last year, a new report claimed today. Millions more people suffer from asthma, heart disease and other […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Emissions from coal-fired power stations caused an estimated 100,000 early deaths in India last year, a new report claimed today.

Millions more people suffer from asthma, heart disease and other health problems which cost India between $3-4 billion dollars suggests the ‘Coal Kills’ report, which was written by researchers from the Delhi-based group Urban Emissions and was commissioned by non-profit group Conservation Action Trust in partnership with Greenpeace.

The study looked at death and disease due to emissions and was based on a database of 111 coal power plants which tot up a total energy generating capacity of 121 gigawatts (GW).

Researchers found different areas in the growing superpower are more at risk than others, depending on the population density, the wind patterns and how many power stations are nearby.

The areas with the worst mortality and disease rates were in the Delhi and Kolkata regions with an estimated 8,800 and 14,900 deaths in 2012 respectively.

Dr Sarath Guttikunda, a TED Fellow who previously worked at the World Bank’s Pollution Division and who co-wrote the report said: “Thousands of lives can be saved every year if India tightens its particulate emissions standards, introduces emission limits for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury and institutes mandatory monitoring of emissions at plant stacks, making the data publicly available in real time.”

The problem is that Indian standards for coal power emissions are “either absent or shamefully behind” other countries like the EU or the USA and even China, said Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust.

Speaking from Mumbai, he said: “Does the Ministry of Environment consider Indian lives to be less valuable? We need to immediately tighten pollution norms for existing plants, phase out the old, inefficient ones and ensure that all proposed new plants have state of the art pollution control systems such as flue gas desulphurisers and strict controls on nitrogen oxide, mercury and particulate emissions.”