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Why The Badarpur Power Plant Needs To Be Shut Down

By Manisha Bhatia:

Delhi, the sixth most polluted metropolitan city in the world and second largest (including NCR), often catches the attention of leading environmentalists, health experts and media channels for the dangerously increasing pollution levels in the city and surrounding areas. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced New Delhi as the world’s most polluted city in May, 2014. The city’s air comprises highest volumes of particulate matter pollution (PMP) which is responsible for its deteriorating health index. A research estimates that every year around 10,000 people in Delhi succumb to premature death only due to air pollution. The major culprits leading to excessive pollution are the power plants surrounding the city limits. Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting firm observes that in the past few years, the condition has worsened so much that it now demands serious preventive measures and corrective actions.

Realizing the gravity of situation, the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) conducted a two year study called, ‘Heat in Power’ on various power plants across the country. The study covering 47 plants over 16 states revealed that the India’s largest power producing coal company- NTPC poorly lags behind in following the various pollution parameters standardized by the government. Amongst them, the established Badarpur plant is not only Delhi’s but country’s most polluting power plant.

Ironically, this plant which caters only 7.9% share of the Delhi’s total power requirement contributes to 80-90% of the PMP and other major pollutants such as Sox and Nox. It is also the world’s most inefficient plant with 14% higher carbon dioxide emissions as compared to the plants of similar capacity in China. To add on the inefficiency, the power cost is supplied at an inflated cost of ₹ 6.04 whereas an average power plant supplies the same power at ₹ 5.50.

Fly and coal ash are the main polluting ingredients of the coal-based power plants and the CSE study found that 767 acres fly ash pit is proliferating at an alarming rate beside the Badarpur plant. Hence, to safeguard the environment, CSE recommended to shut down the Badarpur plant entirely. The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also said that, “Closing the Badarpur plant for a year can reduce emission levels equivalent to the benefit which would arise from the odd-even rule after it has been in place for 18 years.

However, the senior officials of NTPC don’t agree with these claims and reported compliance with emission norms set by the government. Acting as a partner in crime, the Delhi State Pollution Control Board (DSPCB) has also come under the scanner by filing false particulate emission values in the environment statements of NTPC every year.

A report released by International Energy Agency (IEA) on October 31, 2016 on energy and air pollution in Delhi revealed that post-Diwali, the pollution level has increased by 30 times the World Health Organization’s recommended levels, escalating the respiratory problems for its inhabitants.

This alarming situation forced the Delhi government to shut down the Badarpur power plant for 10 days to control pollution in the city. But, Fiinovation highlights that shutting down the plant merely for 10 days may only control the situation for a short period. Rather government should come up with effective measures with long-term impact. It has declared to restore nine gas based power plants, capacitated to generate 6.79 billion units of power at or under the rate of ₹ 4.70 per unit. The Union Ministries of Power and Petroleum & Natural Gas have created a joint campaign for utilizing the stranded gas power capacities in the country.

Contextually, Fiinovation suggests that instead of one-time prevention activities the Delhi government should focus on introducing clean and green energy solutions. The central government has an ambitious target in the solar energy sector which would definitely require contributions from businesses. An increase in investments in solar energy in the NCR region would be a long-term solution. There are several environment protection laws in the country, however, implementation of the same remains an area of concern. The environment watchdog, NGT should take up cases of large scale pollution immediately and impose penalties on violators.

Image by: NTCP Photo Gallery
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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