Delhi to depend on Australian coal

INDIAN Indraprashta Power Generation Company (IPGCL) has decided to import coal, probably from Australia, to reduce the air pollution from its two Delhi-based thermal power stations, reports The Hindu newspaper. The move is expected to substantially increase the cost of electricity per unit to India’s capital city.

Staff Reporter

INDIAN Indraprashta Power Generation Company (IPGCL) has decided to import coal, probably from Australia, to reduce the air pollution from its two Delhi-based thermal power stations, reports The Hindu newspaper. The move is expected to substantially increase the cost of electricity per unit to India’s capital city.

The IPGCL has been asked by the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to reduce pollution coming from the 247 MW Indraprastha and the 135 MW Rajghat Power Stations, or shut these plants down.

Both plants emanate an average of about 1,600 tonnes of flyash daily, a significant quantity of which either enters the atmosphere or goes into the Yamuna River.

The IPGCL has decided to import coal with a lower ash content than the local coal it buys from Singrauli mines in Madhya Pradesh. The newspaper reported that the company plans to blend local coal with Australian coal in the ratio of 8: 2 to lower the ash content from 34% to 28%. It is believed that the coal would land at Kandla port from where it would be brought to Delhi by rail.

A special wagon weighing bridge is being installed for the blending operations and once ready the company said it would formally place an order and proceed with trial operations.

With a demand of around 3000 MW Delhi cannot afford to shut down its four coal-based plants. The four power plants in the capital have a capacity of 994 MW but currently generate just 750 MW.

The move, while seen as an environmentally-friendly measure, would increase the cost of electricity generation in the Capital as the imported coal is likely to cost over Rs. 6,000 per tonne against about Rs. 1,900 per tonne of local coal.

The Indraprastha power station uses about 2,000 tonnes of coal every day while Rajghat station consumes 2,500t. When finally implemented, the cost of reducing pollution levels from these plants by importing coal is estimated to be over Rs. 36 lakhs per day or Rs. 10 crore per month.

IPGCL is also setting up electrostatic precipitators (ESP) to reduce the level of suspended particulate matter from existing dangerous levels of 100 to 120 milligram per normal cubic metre to 50 milligram per normal cubic metre. The DPCC has set a deadline of October 2004 but the IPGCL is unlikely to meet this deadline. Officials have indicated the process would be completed by December this year after which the air pollution would be brought to the desired level.

In another environment-friendly measure, the IPGCL is also constructing a wall on the banks of the Yamuna and a pond to prevent the fly ash and water from entering the river.

Delhi has not successfully found a way of utilising the fly-ash its power stations produce. One fly ash-to-brick plant sanctioned several years ago is yet to get going while another plant at Rajghat is manufacturing bricks far below its capacity. Some local organisations are taking fly-ash apparently for construction purposes.

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