Study reveals coal power emissions killed 100,000 Indians in 2012

Health costs from coal pollution estimated at 23,000 crore rupees

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Press release - March 12, 2013
March 11, 2013, New Delhi: A major new report has estimated that in 2011/12 one hundred thousand (100,000) people died prematurely as a result of emissions from coal-fired power stations in India.

The study (1), conducted by Dr. Sarath Guttikunda and Puja Jawahar of Delhi-based group Urban Emissions, (2) was commissioned by Conservation Action Trust in partnership with Greenpeace. This is the first ever assessment of death and disease due to emissions from the country's coal power sector, and is based on a database of 111 coal power plants representing a generation capacity of 121 GW.

The report also reveals the extent of other emissions-related health impacts on the quality of life of millions of Indians. The study shows that there are millions of cases of asthma, respiratory distress and heart disease attributable to emissions from coal fired power stations, at a cumulative cost to the public of between USD 3.3 and 4.6 billion.

Commenting on the findings Dr. Guttikunda, TED Fellow and an adjunct faculty at the Desert Research Institute (Reno, USA) said, "Thousands of lives can be saved every year if India tightens its particulate emissions standards, introduces emission limits for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury and institutes mandatory monitoring of emissions at plant stacks, making the data publicly available in real time."

The study's results show that the burden of death and disease is not evenly spread. Due to power plant concentrations, wind patterns and population density, the Delhi-Haryana region and the Kolkata-West Bengal-Jharkhand region are the most severely hit, with an estimated 8,800 and 14,900 deaths in 2012 respectively. The MP-Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand-Odisha coal regions (covering Korba, Singrauli and Talcher) also figure high up in the list, with up to 11,000 deaths. Other regions recording high death rates include Mumbai and western Maharashtra, Eastern Andhra Pradesh and the Chandrapur-Nagpur region in Vidarbha.

Speaking from Mumbai, Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust said, "Indian standards for coal power emissions are either absent or shamefully behind those of even China, let alone the EU or US. Does the Ministry of Environment consider Indian lives to be less valuable? We need to immediately tighten pollution norms for existing plants, phase out the old, inefficient ones and ensure that all proposed new plants have state of the art pollution control systems such as flue gas desulphurisers and strict controls on nitrogen oxide, mercury and particulate emissions."

Vinuta Gopal of Greenpeace said, "This is a wake up call for our planners; the ongoing coal expansion is irrational and dangerous. Coal mining is destroying India's forests, tribal communities and endangered species, and now we know the pollution it emits when burned is killing thousands. And at the end of it all, coal has failed to deliver energy security. We need a moratorium on new coal plants and ambitious policy incentives to unlock the huge potential India has in efficiency measures, wind and solar."


Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, Urban Emissions @ +91-9891315946; Puja Jawahar @ +91-9990393223

Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust: +91 98200 86404 <>

Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace: +91 98455 35418 <>,

Ashish Fernandes: +1 857 288 9357 <>

For additional images, contact Greenpeace India photo desk <>

Notes to Editor:

The study is available at

Founded in 2007, Urban Emissions aims to promote the sharing of knowledge based on air pollution analysis, analysis based on science, advocacy and awareness raising on air quality management and building partnerships among local, national, and international stakeholders.