Coal plant emissions in India killed 115,000 in a year

Emissions from Indian coal plants caused 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths and more than 20 million asthma cases between 2011 and 2012, reveals a report presented to India’s government on Monday.

According to the document “Coal Kills – An assessment of death and disease caused by India's dirtiest energy source,” produced with the sponsorship of Greenpeace, emissions from coal-based plants also caused additional health issues in the Indian population, including an alarming increase of heart attacks.

The estimated monetary cost associated with these health impacts exceeded $3.3 billion to $4.6 billion per year, the report said, adding that the largest impact of these emissions has been felt over the states of Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Indo-Gangetic plain, and most of central-east India.

Currently 66% of India’s power generation is coal-fired and the country has plans to increase capacity mostly based on coal-based plants. The first plan (2012-2017) aims to add a total of 76GW, while a second phase (2017-2022) will aim to add 93GW.

In its website, the Central Pollution Control Board said Monday it is aware of the claims and that it is already taking measures to curb pollution coming from such sources.

The report warns that matter emission standards in India lag behind those implemented in China, Australia, the US and the European Union. For other key pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury, there are no prescribed emanation limits in India.