New Delhi: On Tuesday Greenpeace India questioned the Centre's decision to sustain an "obsolete and polluting" coal industry, saying renewable energy holds the potential to meet the energy needs through clean options.
Noting that a large role in worsening global climate change, Greenpeace India asked the power sector to think beyond coal and stop sustaining the momentum to prop up a "dying industry".
"It is time we create new momentum for the future, instead of sustaining the momentum to prop up a dying industry. The sector needs to evolve if we have to keep pace with development.
"The Prime Minister has committed the country to ambitious renewable energy targets through the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) leading up to the Paris Agreement, and we should be focusing energy on how to meet these: that is future-friendly thinking, not this blinkered approach to continuing the coal glut at all costs," Greenpeace India campaigner, Sunil Dahiya said.
He said that due to coal-based power plants, more than a million hectares of forests are threatened, including tiger, elephant and leopard habitat while human elephant conflict is on the rise as close to 50 per cent of the human casualty happen in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
"According to Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal, we are already coal and power surplus. The government must therefore channelise their efforts into developing India's renewable energy potential instead of furthering new coal-based power.
"This is the only way to ensure a clean and constant supply of power without damaging public health and destroying forests, community livelihoods and wildlife. This is also critical in order to meet India's commitments on combating global climate change," Dahiya told reporters during an event organised in parallel to seminar on Coal, hosted by the Power Ministry.
A Greenpeace India finance briefing for investors said that coal companies have already incurred losses to the tune of Rs 2,400 crore due to shortage of water.
Noting there were health impacts due to this, the NGO said that 85,000–1,10,000 premature deaths have taken place due to air pollution while 625 million people have respiratory symptoms, 8.4 million have chest discomforts and 170,000 have chronic bronchitis.