Congress MP in Rajya Sabha Ashwani Kumar on Monday referred to The Indian Express’s ‘Death by Breath’ series on air pollution in Delhi to quiz power minister Piyush Goyal on the specific steps being taken by the government to reduce carbon dioxide emission from thermal power plants.
“The challenge is so grave and every day we read in every newspaper, let us say, The Indian Express report of the state of the air in the capital and we have the thermal power plant here which is years old and everybody knows that it needs to be refurbished. You have talked about the supercritical technology, which again is with respect to the plants that are yet to come in. What about those plants that have aged? What about those plants that are causing huge amount of air pollution, causing serious risk to the life of infants and children? I would ask the Hon. Minister to, please, be specific in giving a time-frame with respect to the proposed acti on,” Kumar said while asking a supplementary to a starred question by CPI’s D Raja.
Goyal’s initial attempt to sidestep the question with a snide remark about how such “passion” had been missing for the last ten years elicited a direction from chairman Hamid Ansari to stick to answering the question. At this, Goyal said: “One of the first steps that this government took when it took charge, was to lay out a policy for completely rehabilitating and changing over from the old plants to new plants which are of supercritical technology. In fact, one of the constraints for changeover from old technology to new had been that the coal linkages were given for a particular plant only and were not allowed to be enhanced or changed and, therefore, the old plants were not able to go in for new technology.”
He added that the government had come out with a policy that allows not just the setting up of new plants but also to increase their capacity to the nearest supercritical technology capacity, which could be 660 Megawatt or 800 Megawatt. All the plants, he said, had been assured that they will get additional coal for the additional capacity automatically.