Air Offenders of India, a campaign has been launched by more than 25 environmental groups to highlight the delay in implementing air pollution norms in coal-fired thermal power plants.
It is a collaborative project that puts together a timeline since the first announcement of new emission standards until today. It chronicles everything that has been said either for or against the new law that requires coal power operators to curb pollution. It calls out those who have deliberately made false statements with the intention of stalling implementation.
According to the website, five years ago, in 2015, India announced new rules to control air pollution from coal power plants. However, 5 years after the announcement, more than 90% of coal power plants continue to pollute everyone’s lungs.
By December 2017, 300 coal power plants across India should have installed scrubbers, filters and the flue gas de-sulphurisation (FGD) technology to control the emissions (Particulate Matter, SO2 and NOx) on burning of coal.
In 2018, the Supreme Court pulled up the government for putting “the health of citizens to ransom” by giving an extension of five years to over 500 coal-based thermal power plants to adhere to stricter emission norms.
“With each day we delay the emissions norms, we reduce the life expectancy of our citizens by a few days. We must prioritise efforts for clean air for the health and well-being of Indians,” said Dr Arvind Kumar, founding trustee, Lung Care Foundation, one of the groups that launched the campaign, to Indian Express.
According to a report, missed deadlines each year causes an estimated 88,000 cases of childhood asthma, 1,40,000 cases of pre-term births and 3,900 premature deaths among children.