The Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments are racing to provide uninterrupted power supply to citizens, which is taking a toll on the environment. Both states are setting up thermal power plants, which are major causes for pollution. A 500 MW thermal power plant consumes about 7,000 tonnes of coal.
Emissions from thermal plants - carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide - lead to global warming and possible acid rain.
The climate summit at Paris has stressed on an ideal mix of power generation with thrust on solar and wind power but both states are lagging in tapping solar and wind power. Not a single unit of hydel power has been generated in Telangana, while AP has registered a mere 6 MW. Renewable energy accounts for less than 2 per cent of all categories installed, said environmentalist Mr S. Jeevanand Reddy.
"Unlike previous summits, there is a lot of hope that the Paris climate summit has brought nations together to try and reduce activities that cause global warming. But in our own backyard i.e. the two Telugu states, the major source of power generation and supply is thermal. It is unfortunate. Both the governments should ensure that the solar and wind power projects announced by them are completed, if not, future generations will not forgive us," said popular environmentalist Mr K. Purushotham Reddy.
TS power utilities chairman and managing director Mr D. Prabhakar Rao and his AP counterpart Mr K. Vijayanand agreed that there should be an ideal mix of energy. Mr Prabhakar Rao said that TS has signed MoUs for 4,000 MW of solar energy and will soon come out with its wind power policy; there is no scope for nuclear power generation as it is mostly coast-based.
"On the hydel front, about 3,000 million units of power is generated on average per annum but we (TS) this time have generated only 120 MU. There is no other option but to go for thermal power plants that are being set up only after approval from the Union environment ministry, i.e. by taking all measures to minimize pollution levels," Mr Rao said.
According to Mr Vijayanand, AP will add 10,000 mega watt of solar and wind power in five years for which MoUs have been signed. "Yes, we are going for new thermal power plants but are also ensuring an ideal mix by planning 950 MW hydel generation at Polavaram," he said.
Keep off water bodies, say activists
The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has taken up the cause of people being affected by the thermal power plants proposed by both Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh governments.
The Human Rights Forum had lodged complaints with the National Green Tribunal, which has given a stay order on the Bhadradri power plant in Khammam district.
Even the case of Yadadri thermal power plant in Nalgonda district has been taken up by the Experts Appraisal Committee, which recently inspected the site and will give its report in a day or two. HRF secretary for Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh, Mr G. Mohan, said they were going to take up awareness programmes and rallies against the thermal power plants.
"It is the duty of every citizen to ensure that all activities that cause pollution are opposed. If projects such as thermal power plants are necessary, they should be come up far from water bodies, habitations agriculture and forest cover. The Yadadri plant is a glaring example of a project that will pollute the Musi that is flowing 2 km away. This project also threatens to kick up inter-state disputes as it is not far from the AP border," Mr Mohan said.
He added that the fly-ash generated by thermal power plants was much more than what was required by the cement and bricks industry. Thermal power plants also required millions of gallons of water every day, he said.
States flout rules on old plants
Union environment ministry rules clearly stipulate that it is mandatory to close down old thermal power plants if the state governments want to set up new thermal power plants. But both TS and AP governments are setting up new plants without closing down the old ones at Kothagudem and Vijayawada. For example, the TS government is going in for a 800-MW additional thermal power unit at Kothagudem in addition to the existing 1720 MW installed capacity.
Of this 1,720 MW, about 1,000 MW projects are 10 years old and 720 MW units are 30 years old. "The life of a thermal plant is about 25 years to 30 years. We will retire (close down) the 720 MW thermal power units at Kothagudem after the new 800 MW unit is operational. All rules will be followed," said Telangana Genco and Transco chairman and managing director D. Prabhakar Rao.
AP Genco chairman and managing director K. Vijayanand said old thermal power plants would be shut down in a phased manner. "We are going in that direction. As and when additional power generation capacity is added, the old ones will be closed down," he said.