Articles by ecothrust at Technorati Headline Animator

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

As Delhi Chokes Under Pollution, Bawana Gas Power Plant Lies Under-utilised.

Delhi along with large parts of Northern India has been choking under severe pollution since 2010. Every year the politician, who ever is in power, pledges to reduce pollution levels. Every year the tax payer invests thousands of crores in the name of pollution control. Nothing happens.  In 2018 I happened to investigate  the causes of air pollution in detail and wrote a piece for the think tank ORF about the directionless effort that placed responsibility on too many and actually led to accountability for none.   Delhi’s Toxic Air : Anyone Responsible  ?

The Government had then made yet another high powered committee where scientists and bureaucrats started passing the buck without any actionable output. Two more years passed since and the air quality has worsened.
On Monday the 11th of November 2020, a decade after the acute air pollution problem surfaced in Delhi, the Air quality dipped to show that PM2.5 particles ( 100 times thinner than human hair ) exceeded 1000 ug/cubic metre. These particles consist of dirt, smoke, dust from factories, farms, construction sites and severely affect the upper respiratory tract causing, asthma, breathlessness and even lung cancer. 

In 2019 Bloomsbury published my book India Emerging : From Policy Paralysis to Hyper Economics where some of the key reasons for Delhi’s pollution was discussed. Here is one of them 
Extract - Chapter 6 Opportunity to Build Oil Infrastructure Lost: High Taxes Hurt the Consumer Pg 74

While  Delhi chokes under  smog  each winter, Delhi’s gas power  plants—270 MW  Indraprastha  Power  Generation Co Ltd (IPGCL) unit  at  Pragati Maidan and 1500 MW gas station at  Bawana— lie  underutilised due  to lack of natural  gas. As a  matter  of fact, the generation  of  these  stations,  set  up  at  a  cost  of  over  ₹5,000  crore,  never even exceeded  50%  because  agreements for  buying  of  gas were  not completed. The  Bawana gas project  was set up with a lot of fanfare  by the  Sheila Dixit government  around a decade  ago. Politicians then promised to the people  that  with this massive  investment  Delhi will  have  clean air  and will be  self-sufficient. It  will not  have  to depend on dirty coal power from NTPC in Badarpur in the  heart  of South Delhi to meet the  power needs of the  city. 

But, those  politicians have  gone  and the  new Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP) ministry at  Delhi and the  Modi government  at  the  centre  have  not taken an initiative  to augment  gas supplies to run the  Bawana utility at its full capacity. 

When I talked to V. Kumar, additional general manager, Solar & Gas of the  IPGCL Bawana project, he  told me  that  domestic gas supply is insufficient  and imported gas is unaffordable. Production of natural gas has fallen by nearly 40% from 52,219 Million Metric Standard Cubic Metres  (MMSCM) in  2010–2011 to 31,897 MMSCM  in  2016–2017. Figure  6.3 gives the  details of the  steady fall in production of natural gas since  2011.  So,  the  IPGCL  plants  have  worked  far  below  capacity.  The unavailability  of local gas  and the high  cost of imported gas  is  to blame for the underutilisation of plants. The  distribution companies (discoms) will not  buy expensive  power  from  imported  gas. So,  IPGCL  has  not  entered into a  contract  to buy expensive  gas, immaterial  of the  fact  that  the  capital is high on health hazard. 

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