India | Health professionals urge implementation of power plant standards to protect public health

A group of public health professionals and medical doctors sent a letter of concern to the Indian Environment Minister — who is a medical doctor himself — in response to recent reports that the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) is in the process of diluting and extending deadlines for critical air emission and water use norms for thermal power plants that were announced in December 2015 and are being phased in during 2017.

The letter emphasized the importance of strict air emission norms to protect public health, as the impact of pollution from coal-based power generation is known to be disproportionately high. Additionally, the letter urged adherence to the new norms limiting freshwater consumption by thermal power plants in order to protect public access to water, “the lifeline of the country.”

One of the letter’s signatories, Dr Sree Karuna Murthy Kolli, Vice President (South) of Indian Public Health Association and a member of Healthy Energy Initiative network in India, said to the press: “As a medical doctor, Dr Harshvardhan is aware of the importance of strict air emission norms to protect public health. Each year, thousands of people are dying. Many are suffering from respiratory ailments, dermatological and psychiatric diseases triggered by toxic air. Thermal plants contribute majorly to worsening the air quality. Indian cities have acquired a notoriety globally for their poor air quality. By bringing the notification for stricter norms in December 2015, the MoEFCC has committed to a reduction of Particulate Matter (PM), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and mercury in air. We are now urging the minister that public health and not economics should be considered, while taking decisions. And keeping public health in mind, the thermal power plant emission norms should not be diluted and its implementation not deferred.”

The group urged the MoEFCC to issue a clear statement that the norms shall not be diluted, nor the timeline extended; to provide a interim status report on the roll-out of the norms by all thermal power plants; and to issue clear instructions to all thermal power plants under construction that the new norms will have to be implemented.

Read about the letter from health professionals in the press:

Previously, health professionals in India had commented on the need for stricter power plant emission rules when they were released in draft form for public comment in 2015. The Indian Public Health Association had hosted the World Congress on Public Health in Kolkata in February 2015, which culminated in a Call to Action that advocated a rapid phase-out of coal to limit further global warming and prevent illnesses and deaths associated with air pollution.


This post was written by
Comments are closed.