Ashish Roy, Times of News Network, October 21 2017
In spite of being pulled up by Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, coal companies are still supplying high ash content coal to Mahagenco’s thermal power plants, causing alarming level of air pollution. Mahagenco has not even lodged a protest with coal companies in this regard.
As per norms of union ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC), coal used by thermal power stations should not have ash content more than 34%. Coal used by Khaparkheda thermal power station, which is hardly 15km from the city, has ash content well above this limit.
Activist Anil Wadpalliwar had sought information in this regard under Right to Information (RTI) Act. It has revealed that coal supplied by Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) between January and July this year had ash content as high as 43.71%. The quality of coal supplied by South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) and South Central Coalfields Limited (SCCL) is slightly better whereas coal from Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) is as bad as WCL.
Environmentalist expert Debi Goenka feels that washing was the only solution for high ash content coal. “Generation companies are supposed to wash coal before using it. However, there are neither enough washeries nor enough water for washing coal. Moreover, power companies do not want to waste time in washing coal, especially during monsoons,” he said.
According to Goenka, high ash in coal was not in interest of the generation companies too. “Ash damages machinery. It is bad for the company, people and environment,” he added.
Wadpalliwar wondered why Mahagenco was accepting high ash content coal that was endangering the lives of people. “Both Mahagenco and WCL are at fault and they conveniently blame each other,” he said.
The activist also flayed Mahagenco for not keeping enough stock of coal, which led to load shedding. “I feel this is a deliberate ploy to import coal, which is very costly. My public interest litigation (PIL) on coal quality is being heard in the HC. I will raise this issue too. Load shedding is causing loss to farmers of Vidarbha, who are already in trouble due to poor rainfall,” he said.
WCL officials were at loss to explain supply of high ash coal. “We supply coal on gross calorific value (GCV) basis and not depending on ash content. Mahagenco has never complained to us about ash content,” an official said. Mahagenco spokesperson refused to comment saying on the issue that it was a highly contentious one.
TOI had visited the villages near Koradi thermal power station a few months ago and found that the residents suffered multiple problems due to fly-ash, which is emitted when ash content in coal is high.
Bawankule seeks power funds from Centre
State energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule on Wednesday met Union power minister RK Singh and sought funds for the state under Saubhagya Yojana. This scheme envisages providing round the clock power to each and every person. Bawankule also sought additional funds for the state under Deendayal Yojana and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS).