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AAP govt to take a call on Badarpur power plant closure date

According to sources from the Delhi environment department, the decades-old thermal power plant may not shut in the next 15 days, when the odd even car rule will be in force in Delhi.

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The capital is gearing up for its first-ever, ambitious pollution-controlling odd even car formula from January 1, but the Aam Aadmi Party government here is yet to decide on a closure date for the NTPC's Badarpur thermal power plant –pegged as one of the most polluting thermal power plants of the country by several institutions.

According to sources from the Delhi environment department, the decades-old thermal power plant may not shut in the next 15 days, when the odd even car rule will be in force in Delhi.

A senior government official said since environment secretary Ashwani Kumar had to go an emergency leave owing to his health, the decision has been pending on the issue.

"Once he joins back, we will take a call on the Badarpur plant,"a senior government official said, adding that the Rajghat power plant is at the brink of closure.

Environment experts said it is important for the Badarpur thermal power plant to be shut during the odd even car formula trial period, if the government wants to see a visible improvement in the air quality on January 15.

"With two-wheelers being exempted from the odd even plan and the Badarpur plant operating during this period, there may not be a drastic improvement in the air quality even if people of Delhi abide by the odd even rule," an expert said.

The Delhi government had recently declared that the Badarpur and the Rajghat power plants will be shut down as part of a slew of air pollution-controlling measures to be undertaken in Delhi.

Following the announcement, the Delhi government sent a show cause notice was sent to NTPC, asking why the Badarpur plant should not be shut. In its reply, NTPC had urged the government not to shut down its coal-based plant, saying that it meets pollution control norms and that it was essential to meet the capital's power needs.

However, sources from NTPC told dna that that the Badarpur power plant commissioned to NTPC in 1961 has outlived itself. "Despite NTPC spending on its modernisation, it can only be modernised to a certain extent since it is a very old power plant. As a result, there is some amount of pollution from the plant," a source said.

In August this year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the Badarpur and Rajghat Thermal Power Stations to bring particulate matter (PM) within permissible limits after the report of an inspection carried out by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) , Delhi Pollution Control Committee and a representative from the Environment Ministry highlighted their high content in the air around these projects.

According to the report --framed after inspecting all major government power and thermal projects in the capital --the particulate matter (PM) in the Badarpur coal based plant's IIA unit was exceeding the standard of 150 mg/Nm3 in some days of the year while at Rajghat plant all the units exceeded the standard of 150 mg/Nm3 most of the time.

Earlier this year, a two-year long study called 'Heat in Power' carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had stated that the Badarpur thermal power plant in Delhi is one of the most polluting units.

The study had analysed and rated 47 coal-based thermal power plants on nearly 60 environmental and energy parameters.

A senior government official said the plant can, however, be shut within a short notice under relevant sections of CRPC.

Meanwhile, Delhi government's plan to carry out a dry run of the odd even plan on December 30, was postponed to December 31, when civil volunteers would keep a check on the plan.

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