Greenpeace India on Friday released data on the water consumption patterns of coal power plants in seven drought affected states, stating that coal power plants in these states consume water that could meet the basic needs of 50 million people for a year.
Greenpeace India alleged that even as India suffers from one of the worst droughts in decades, affecting 266 districts across 11 states, the government continues to be myopic about managing the country’s water resources .
The drought-hit states it listed are: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh.
“Coal power plants are amongst the most intensive industrial users of fresh water. Despite this being a drought year, the water consumption of coal power plants in India has not received sufficient attention from policy makers and government,” Greenpeace India said in a press statement.
“This drought has been devastating for millions of people, yet we continue to ignore one of the biggest water guzzlers in the country, the coal power sector,” says Jai Krishna, Greenpeace Campaigner.
Krishna said: “Given that given the scant water supply, we have to priorities meeting basic human needs and livelihoods over water being diverted for operating a power plant,” said Krishna.
“It is particularly deplorable for the government to continue promoting more coal power plants, including in water scarce regions, instead of investing in renewable energy solutions that would reduce the water burden as well as our contributions to climate change,” he added.
The Greenpeace analysis reveals that the water consumption of coal power plants could more than triple in coming years, if all proposed power plants in these seven states are taken into account.
“This is a recipe for disaster. The next time we have below-normal rainfall, the crisis will be felt in farmlands, urban homes, and boardrooms alike,” cautioned Jai Krishna, “As water supply reduces, conflicts will arise, and power plants will need to be shut down more often to preserve water supplies, rendering new power plants a risky bet for investors and lenders as well.”
A Greenpeace India analysis of a report released in March this year estimates that the total freshwater consumption of coal power plants in India is 4.6 billion cubic meters per year. This is enough to meet the basic water needs of 251 million (25.1 crore) people. This figure will more than double if all proposed plants are built.