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KARACHI: Fishing communities and other rights activists demanded on Friday the replacement of coal for power plants with renewable energy sources.

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, Mohammad Ali Shah, chair of the Pakistan Fishermen’s Forum (PFF), said: “The government must stop power generation through dirty fuels such as coal. It would be wise to invest in the development of renewable and alternative energy resources such as solar and solar panels, wind and wind plants, waste and waste power plants, etc. ”

Mr. Shah is of the view that various studies by environmental and climate change experts indicate that coal-fired power plants have a negative impact on life. This has also proven to be damaging to the environment and ecology of the areas where they have coal-fired power plants. He demanded the federal government to start an environmentally friendly project under the 2019 Alternative Renewable Energy Policy. “In the coming budget, 2020-21 the government should not allocate funds for public power through fossil fuels. Instead, the government must allocate funds for renewable energy generation, “he said.

“There are many people displaced due to the development of coal mines and power generation units, but they have not been given adequate compensation for the land and houses they have lost. The grazing area for livestock has also been destroyed, “he said, adding that the government must pay appropriate compensation to villagers and allocate land for grazing animals.

“At present, the government is installing coal-fired power plants in various parts of the country, including the Tharparkar district and in the coastal district of Karachi along with Hub and Gawadar, all of which pose major hazards to ecology and human health. creatures that live in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan. Experts also point out that this coal-fired power plant will destroy the fisheries sector, which happens to provide livelihoods for millions of fishermen who live along the coast.

‘Plants emit about 1,400 kg of mercury per year, one fifth of which will be deposited on terrestrial ecosystems’

“However, the people most affected will be in Tharparkar where the government has started a number of coal mining and power generation projects. A total of nine power plants with a total capacity of 3.7 gigawatts are proposed in Thar, which will be one of the largest hotspots of pollutant, mercury and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in South Asia, “Shah added.

Toxic emission

It was explained that the researchers said that toxic emissions from coal and mining power plants pose a great danger to the health of the hundreds of thousands of people who live near this power plant in Thar. “The plant emits about 1,400 kg of mercury per year, one fifth of which will be deposited into the soil ecosystem in the region,” Shah said. “And most of the sediment goes to agricultural land, increasing the concentration of mercury in plants. “Mercury levels are potentially dangerous in areas with 100,000 inhabitants,” he said.

More research and statistics shared by Shah read: “Other health impacts due to coal mining and power generation include 40,000 asthma emergency room visits, 19,906 new cases of asthma in children, 32,000 premature births, 20 million days absent from work [sick leave] and 57,000 years of life with disabilities related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and stroke. “

In addition, it was also shared that “coal mining and coal power generation creates a lack of water because this activity will destroy underground aquifers. In the coming years, coal mining in Tharparkar will require 4,000 billion gallons of water to produce 10 gigawatts of power. Therefore, 8,500 billion gallons of water will be consumed. This will create an acute water shortage in Tharparkar, which is a desert, and which has faced drought. “

Saeed Baloch, secretary general of the PFF, and Shujauddin Qureshi from the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research were also present at the press conference.

Published in Dawn, May 16, 2020



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