India’s Reliance on Coal Draws Criticism from Greenpeace, Other Agencies

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India’s continued emphasis on coal-based power plants has drawn flak from Greenpeace India and other agencies.

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A report released jointly by Global Energy Monitor, Greenpeace India and the Sierra Club  said the Indian government continued to support thermal power plants when they were being cut down elsewhere in the world.

Little love is lost between the present dispensation in India and Greenpeace.

Since the 2014 election of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government was elected din 2014, it has come down against Greenpeace’s climate campaign that concentrated on coal mining and thermal power generation. In fact, the internationally-known NGO was also labeled “anti-national” for opposing coal mining in Central India forests. In addition, its accounts were frozen twice and its license to operate was revoked.

The report, titled “Boom and Bust 2019: Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline” said there was a 20% drop in newly completed coal plants, a 39% fall in new construction and a 24% cut in plants in pre-construction activity, year on year.

Yet, despite such “unfavorable market conditions for coal power,” the Indian government persisted with investments in new coal-fired plants, The Business Standard report quoted Pujarini Sen of Greenpeace India as saying.

Just a couple of months ago, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved multibillion-dollar investments for a total four power projects, including two thermal plants in central India. Together, they will yield 3,760 MW of power. The same committee also approved a policy to revive stressed assets in the power sector, including easier power sale norms.

The government will also provide coal linkage for three months to a year to independent power producers that can generate electricity and sell it under short-term power purchase agreements.

Figures for 2017 showed that 34 of India’s coal power plants were either “stressed” or facing bankruptcy, making up over 40,000 MW among them. Of them, 11 had been sorted out. Together, China and India account for 85% of new coal power capacity since 2005, while other countries, like the U.S., are dismantling such thermal plants at a record pace.

Now, in a fresh move to revive the ailing power plants, the government is aiming to “warehouse” such power assets and nurse them back to health gradually, The Business Standard reported. This new plan comes in the wake of a recent Supreme Court of India order giving banks the freedom to pursue resolution for these assets.

Such power projects will be infused funds through equity support from banks and power sector lending agencies, and ground support from an asset management company or power generating entity, according to the Business Standard report

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Because of the court order, non-performing assets in the power sector may have dodged insolvency for now. They will now, however, have to find a buyer or undergo debt resolution.

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