A recent global study has warned Kolkata of pollution from coal plants which is threatening the health of residents in and around the city.
The study done by “C40 Cities”, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, has revealed that out of a study of 61 global megacities, Kolkata had the highest number of premature deaths due to coal plant pollution in 2019.
The “C40 Cities” is a consortium that connects 97 cities across the globe to take climate action. The global study shows that Kolkata witnessed about 2,200 premature deaths due to coal power plants in the year 2019. The report indicates that citizens of Kolkata are the most impacted by coal pollution compared to residents in all other C40 cities in terms of premature deaths.
About 20 percent of India’s coal-generated electricity is within 500 km of the city, underscores the report. Air pollution from coal-fired power plants travels long distances with the main winds pushing pollutants towards the city, and the concentration levels put everyone at risk, especially vulnerable citizens such as the young, the elderly and pregnant women.
The global study also highlights that Kolkata is expected to have the most premature deaths due to “air pollution from coal” among all C40 cities in India and the world. According to the study, the current plans to expand India’s coal fleet by 64 GW would increase the number of annual premature deaths from coal-related air pollution in Kolkata resulting in 31,000 premature deaths over the next decade due to this.
“The planned expansion of coal-generated electricity in India must end immediately,” said Markus Berensson, Senior Research Manager, C40 cities. “State and national authorities should cancel its funding of new coal plants while setting ambitious targets for retiring the existing coal capacity,” he added.