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To permanently shut down Bardarpur thermal plant.

This petition had 22 supporters

It has been 43 years since the 705 megawatt (MW) Badarpur Thermal Power Station (BTPS) has been generating electricity in the heart of the national capital. Although the plant was designed to function only for 25years. It has been nearly a decade since the plant has been underperforming, polluting and making Delhiites pay more towards their power bills.

The BTPS has not only outlived the 25-year shelf life of a coal fired plant, it has also stealthily and adversely affected the lives of over 1.67 crore people in the city. To mitigate the increase in air pollution, the plant was shut in November last year and is set to open on Thursday.

Despite such temporary closures, there still are enough reasons for the BTPS to be permanently locked down. When operational, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) runs two of the five units of the plant and generates only around 160 MW.

While the environmental hazards posed by the plant are in public domain, what is not being talked about is if its closure will have an impact on Delhi’s energy dynamics.

As much as 11% of Delhi’s ultra-fine respirable particles or PM 2.5 is contributed by the plant alone. To add to it, 26% of the city’s PM 2.5 levels comprise coal and flyash which are emitted from the plant.

Now, if you are sipping a coffee at Connaught Place and presuming it won’t affect your health because the plant is far away and quite out of sight from your daily routine (vis-a-vis other tangible factors like vehicular pollution and waste burning), then think again. All the PM 2.5, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emitted from the plant reaches you within minutes as the geodesic distance between BTPS and CP is just about 10 miles.

Worse off are the residents living in South Delhi areas like Greater Kailash and Okhla as they are just about 5 miles away from the plant which makes them constantly exposed to harmful pollutants.

The NTPC that runs the plant has maintained that its particulate matter emission has now come down to the prescribed standard of 50 mg/m3. But, the action seems to have come too late.

It was only in March, 2016 that the NTPC actually installed Pollution Control Devices (PCDs) in two units of the 5-unit plant. This too was only after the Delhi government had asked for shutting the plant owing to rise in pollution levels. 

Could reduce power bills:

Delhi government, distribution companies and experts say that in a city that always has surplus power, shutting the Badarpur plant once and for all won’t affect much.

“Permanently closing BTPS would be a better option as consumers could pay around 20 paise less per unit for electricity,” said a former member of the Delhi Electricity regulatory Commission (DERC).

It means that 84% of the city’s consumers who use up to 400 units of power every month could end up saving up to Rs 80 on their bills. This will be over and above the 50% subsidy already being given to those under the slab. The figure will vary according to the amount of energy consumed.

Written communication between discoms, Delhi government, DERC and the Centre reveal that shutting the plant permanently will help discoms save Rs 1,100 crore per annum.

“The plant is the most expensive in the entire portfolio of Delhi discoms with the total cost of power from the plant being in the range of Rs 5 to Rs 5.5 per unit… Every year, close to 2,000 MUs (million units) from BTPS are scheduled forcefully by SLDC (State Load Dispatch Centre) to Delhi,” a recent letter sent to DERC by one of the three discoms stated.

The average cost of power procured from other sources range from Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 which is over 45% lesser than what BTPS is offering. Even when the plant is temporarily shut, power utilities continue to pay the fixed costs which ultimately reflect in the tariffs.

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