A recent scientific study, conducted by the C-40 Cities Climate Leadership group, revealed that the expansion of coal plants around Mumbai would lead to a 35 per cent (around 6,200) increase in premature deaths from air pollution in the next decade. Currently, nine per cent of India's power from coal is generated within 500km of the city. "Under the current plans on the expansion of coal plants, Mumbai would suffer from 6,200 premature deaths, 3,200 preterm births and 4,400 asthma emergency visits. It will burden hospitals in the next decade," the report said. It also stated that 530 asthma cases could be reported amongst children.
Mumbaikars will also take more than 2.4 million days of sick leave over the next decade due to air pollution, the report revealed. Dr Rachel Huxley, head of knowledge and research at C-40, stated that air pollution in Mumbai is three times above the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. "The current plan to expand the existing coal fleet by 28 per cent between 2020 and 2030 would threaten the health and well being of residents in Mumbai and undermine India's air and climate quality targets," Dr Huxley said.
Meanwhile, Mumbai has been drafting its own climate action plan. A greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory under it showed that the energy sector contributes the most to such emissions. 95 per cent of the city's total energy is produced from coal.
The report suggested that a transition to clean energy will not only increase life expectancy, but also generate nearly 2,50,000 jobs in the next decade. "The planned expansion of coal-generated electricity in India must end immediately. State and national authorities should cancel its funding and set targets to retire the existing coal capacity," said Markus Berensson, senior research manager, C-40.
The state intends to add more renewables to the grid. "This will be applicable not for energy alone, but also in how we design our buildings," said Saurabh Punamiya Jain, research and public policy assistant to the state cabinet minister (environment and climate change). "The aim is to identify how we can reduce energy consumption in a city which has a hot and humid climate throughout the year," he added.