Power Minister Piyush Goyal should apply “brakes” on coal expansion and steer the country towards a “responsible” renewable future, Greenpeace India said. The green body also lauded the Minister for questioning the excessive investments in past in coal and for highlighting “irrational investments” in adding generating capacity during the previous UPA government. “As the Minister has pointed out, the Planning Commission and the previous UPA government drove the country into this situation, ignoring repeated warnings from think tanks and encouraged investment in new coal power plants.
“Now, with his own hands on the wheel Minister Goyal has the responsibility and the opportunity after the Paris agreement, to drastically change direction,” said Greenpeace India researcher Jai Krishna R. “We hope he will take an assertive stand, apply the brakes on coal expansion, and steer the country towards a more responsible, renewable future. We simply cannot afford to close our eyes and keep barrelling down this current path, as the coal catastrophe is somehow inevitable,” he said. Goyal recently blamed the erstwhile Planning Commission, which has been succeeded by Niti Aayog, for its approach of setting targets that led to a situation where companies “invested irrationally” to add capacities in the sector.
Noting that the record till now is not encouraging, the green body said that since May 2014, when the NDA took charge, nearly 45 GW of new coal plants have either received environmental clearance or terms of reference to start the EC process. “Even if a fraction of these plants being built will worsen the coal glut India is facing. Add to this the 1.5 bn tonne target for coal mining by 2020, despite a coal surplus. “The question is, why is the government continuing to encourage costly, polluting and unnecessary coal power despite the overcapacity in the sector and the great promise made in renewables,” Jai Krishna added. He said that instead, the current government must come up with innovative mechanisms to transfer these capital investments to meet India’s commitment to 175 GW renewable energy by 2022.