‘Need to reopen Badarpur plant’

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NEW DELHI: While the Delhi government’s environment department on Friday extended the closure of Badarpur power plant till further orders, keeping in view the present air quality in the city, the power department said the facility would have to be made functional to meet the city’s peak summer demand at a meeting called by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

Delhi power secretary Varsha Joshi said, “We will have to reopen the Badarpur plant as soon as summer starts. We will need Badarpur power plant until we have the Tughlaqabad sub-station ready. The work has already been awarded and it has to be completed by March 2018.”

EPCA members said the substation was supposed to be completed by 2015-16. “Give us a time-frame for the 400KV Tughlaqabad station first. We will allow you to reopen Badarpur in summer on the condition that you devise a time-frame for Tughlaqabad,” an EPCA member said. The Badarpur plant has been closed by the environment department after PM 2.5 levels reached the “severe” level. This is in compliance with the graded response action plan, which is currently in force. Even though the air quality is not in “severe” now, the EPCA has recommended its closure till the end of this winter.

EPCA chief Bhure Lal also made it clear that in the long run, they want both Badarpur and Dadri thermal plants to be closed or replaced by natural gas ones.

The Badarpur station is crucial to meet Delhi’s summer peak power demand, which is expected to cross 6,500MW this year. Last year, Delhi saw power demand touch a new high. Experts said that a similar situation is expected in May-July this year. “The Badarpur plant supplies power to a lot of VIP areas. Until such time as Delhi has sufficient power available, the city cannot afford to forgo power from the Badarpur plant, especially during summer,” said an industry expert. “The Bawana plant is still producing only 20% of its capacity and the price of power from the exchange peaks in summers, and discoms will not be able to afford buying from other states.”

The decision to extend the closure of the Badarpur plant was taken in a meeting of the environment department chaired by minister Imran Hussain and was attended by senior department officials and Delhi Pollution Control Committee officials. Out of the five units of the Badarpur plant, DPCC has allowed only two units of 210MW capacity to function, each subject to meeting the prescribed limit of particulate matter—50 mg/Nm3.

EPCA had rolled out the measures, including closure of Badarpur plant, blanket ban on garbage burning and firecrackers, in its January 20 meeting after the plan, CPCB was notified by the Centre.