New Delhi: Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday renewed his call to the Delhi government to make the gas-fired Bawana power plant fully operational so as to provide clean power to the capital, saying he had not received any satisfactory reply to his letter in this regard. "The 350 MW Badarpur thermal power plant in the capital is making several times more pollution than all the vehicles of Delhi put together," Pradhan said here launching an all-India pilot programme to run two-wheelers on compressed natural gas (CNG) along with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. The 1,500 MW liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fired Bawana power plant has been operating at less than a fifth of its capacity for the last four years. In an effort to move city utilities away from polluting coal-based electricity, Pradhan had, in April, offered to supply natural gas to the Bawana plant at a price of $7.5-8 per million British thermal unit (mbtu), which will help generate power at less than Rs 5-6 per unit. "Switching from the Badarpur plant to cleaner gas-based power from Bawana will help cut pollution more than plying cars by odd-even rule. "I am told that switching off the Badarpur plant for one year can cut emissions that will be equivalent to the benefit from the odd-even rule after it is put in place for 18 years," he had said.
Delhi was the world's most polluted city measured by airborne particulate matter PM2.5, with an annual average of 153 micrograms per cubic meter, as per a 2014 World Health Organization database. Gas accounts for 8 per cent of India's power generation capacity, as compared to over 60 per cent by coal. Most of the 24,500 MW capacity of country's gas-based power plants are however lying idle for lack of fuel. In the context of the current power cuts in Delhi during peak summer, clean gas-based power could help make up the shortfall from thermal sources.