Thermal power plants pose risk for drinking water in drought hit Maharashtra

Greenpeace releases data on water use of power plants in drought affected regions

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Press release - May 29, 2013
Mumbai, 30th May 2013: Greenpeace today released an analysis of the water consumption by coal fired thermal power plants during the severe drought that has affected more than 12 districts and 11800 villages this year. The analysis exposed cases of wrong prioritization of water resources to thermal power plants and demanded an immediate review of water diversions and allocations in the drought affected parts of the state.

Four state owned power plants, Bhusawal in Jalgaon, Parli in Beed, Paras in Akola and Nasik with an installed capacity of 3680 MW are located in the drought affected parts of Maharashtra.

Parli power plant located in the drought affected Beed district has been stopped since February 17 this year. Though the government in its resolution (1) dated January 21st had already announced that that all the small, medium, and big irrigation projects in the water scarce regions will be reserved for drinking water purposes, reports also show that an additional water supply of 5000 million litres was provided to Parli by the water resource department in December only to run it till February, in effect violating its own decisions.

 “Even during a drought, the state seems to deprioritise the drinking water needs of farmers and villagers in the drought affected regions. Additional water seems to have been given to thermal power plants even during December last year despite being fully aware of the upcoming crisis in summer.” said jai Krishna, Campaigner, Greenpeace. “Instead of assessing whether the power plants have enough water, the state should concentrate on whether people have sufficient drinking water during this drought” he added.

The Bhusawal power plant in Jalgaon and Paras power plant in Akola are still operational, consuming large quantities of water. This is despite the fact that the talukas in Buldhana and Jalgaon around the power plant region are suffering from a serious drought this year.

It is estimated that the total water consumed by the power plants till March this year is about 17,000 Million litres and are expected to consume another 15000 million litres till June 2013. This is the equivalent to the water required for more than 6 lakh people a year at a requirement of 135 litres per person per day.

Overall, more than 80,000 MW (2) of power plants are proposed in the state, most of them in interior districts placing a huge demand for water from the rivers and reservoirs in these districts. About 9500 MW is being proposed just in the drought affected districts alone, adding stress to the water sharing between drinking water, agriculture and industry. Water allocations for these are supported by the previous water policy which had prioritized industrial use over irrigation needs. Many of these allocations were made by the High Powered Committee on water allocations, headed by Mr. Ajit Pawar as the then water resources minister. It is estimated that total volume of bulk water allocations for thermal power plants made by the committee is about 760 Million cubic metres.

Greenpeace demands that a cumulative assessment of the water availability and use in the state be conducted on a war footing to ensure that water allocations to thermal power plants are not made in violation of the existing water policy and ensure that drinking and agriculture requirements are prioritised.

Besides this, all previous allocations should be suspended and an immediate moratorium should be imposed on any new allocations till these assessments are completed.

For more information, Photo and video contact:

Jai Krishna. R, Campaigner, Climate and Energy, Greenpeace, +91 98455 91992,

Bhagwan Kesbhat, Campaigner, Climate and Energy, Greenpeace, 92212 50399 ,

Nitya Kaushik, Media Officer, +91 98199 02763

The analysis can be downloaded at:

English: http://www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/docs/Coal-Power-Plants-and-water-use-in-Maharashtra.pdf

Marathi: www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/2013/coal-water-report-in-marathi.pdf

Notes:

(1)  Maharashtra Government Resolution, Revenue and Forest Department, क्र. एससीवाय /प्र.क्र. / -,21st January 2013.

(2)  Assesment based on information received from Vidarbha Irrigation development coroporatoin as of December 2010. Available at http://www.greenpeace.org/india/Global/india/report/Endangered-waters.pdf

And “Global Coal Risk Assessment: Data Analysis and Market Research” November 2012. Available at: http://www.wri.org/publication/global-coal-risk-assessment

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