New Delhi, 2 August 2018: At least 13 lead Pulmonologists and Chest Physicians from 6 cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Bangalore have urged the Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan to implement the emission standards from coal plants without any further delay. In a letter addressed to the Minister, the doctors stated that, “power plants are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in our country”, and that, “in the interest of the health and the future of the present and future generations of our country, we appeal to you to kindly put all your might towards this cause and see to it that these emission norms proposed and piloted by your own ministry under your stewardship are implemented as soon as possible and not deferred as is being done at the moment.”
The doctors also shared their experiences of the patterns of diseases connected to air pollution that they were seeing in their clinics with the environment minister in the letter. “We would like to share with you that in the recent past, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of chest diseases and specially Lung Cancer. In fact, we are seeing increasing number of these cases in the non-smoker (so called “Non-Smoker”) population of our country. We are sure that you are aware of the numerous studies available, which have linked the Particulate Matter and the Toxic Gases especially being released by the power plants to Chest Ailments and to Lung Cancer”, said the letter.
In December 2015, the MoEFCC initiated a step towards addressing concerns about air pollution by thermal power plants, when it introduced the amendment to the Environment (Protection) Rules of 1986, bringing in new and tighter norms for emissions from coal based power plants. According to the amended rules, all TPPs had to meet these norms by December 2017. If TPPs meet these norms, it will help ameliorate some of the impacts of TPP emissions in the air. However, the deadline of December 2017 for implementing the norms have been missed and it looks like it may get pushed to 2022 or 2030. The Supreme Court of India is hearing a matter with respect to the extension of the deadline and the next hearing is scheduled for August 6, 2018.
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