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India’s Coal Addiction causing thousands of Deaths each year due to Pollution

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Coal Deaths in India

India gets more than 50% of its energy requirements from coal, of which the country has got billions of tons in reserves. Coal is used for most of the power generation in the country despite its pernicious effects on human health and the environment. Coal is responsible not only for thousands of direct deaths each year due to mining accidents but also indirectly cause thousands of deaths due to pollution. While these facts are already known to our readers, Greenpeace has come out with an actual number about the number of deaths cause by coal in India each year.

Read about Coal Advantages & Disadvantages.

The green NGO has used a former top World Bank official to analyze the data from over 400 thermal power plants in India to come out with a quantifiable number of the amount of losses as well as the deaths caused. The metropolitan cities of Kolkata and Delhi were the worst affected with coal being responsible for major health problems such as asthma and heart attacks. Note India is rolling out many more thermal power plants due to the cheapness of coal as an energy source. India lacks in other fuel sources such as oil and natural gas. Hydro power projects take a long period of time to get built and India lacks nuclear fuel as well. This leaves coal as the only option. I do not think that coal expansion is going to stop, however clean coal technologies might help in reducing some of the pollution and death due to thermal power plants.

Coal Mining has resulted in thousands of deaths each year ever since man discovered coal. Coal Deaths happen not only in countries which do not have good safety regulations like China but also in developed countries like USA and New Zealand. Open Cast Mining of Coal has resulted in destruction of the habitat and destruction of the scenery. It leads to removal of trees and pollution of air and water in areas surrounding the mines. Coal Mine Fires have burned for hundreds of year underground and make living in those areas hazardous. Those burning underground can be difficult to locate and many cannot be extinguished. Fires can cause the ground above to subside, their combustion gases are dangerous to life, and breaking out to the surface can initiate surface fires as well.


Coal is considered as the Dirtiest form of Energy as it leads to Air Pollution, Mercury Poisoning, Global Warming. Renewable Energy is considered as the solution with its non-polluting characteristics, energy security, freedom from peak everything. However Renewable Energy is way more expensive than Coal Energy making it difficult for Renewable Energy to take over Coal. But the growing Global Warming costs will weigh in the future, making it inevitable that Green Energy catches up. Green Energy will ultimately win in the end, it is only a question of how soon because if the realization comes too late then Climate Change might go far enough to cause catastrophic damage.


India‘s breakneck pace of industrialisation is causing a public health crisis with 80-120,000 premature deaths and 20m new asthma cases a year due to air pollution from coal power plants, a Greenpeace report warns. The study, which took data from 111 major power plants, says there is barely any regulation or inspection of pollution. “Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved, and millions of asthma attacks, heart attacks, hospitalisations, lost workdays and associated costs to society could be avoided, with the use of cleaner fuels, [and] stricter emission standards and the installation and use of the technologies required to achieve substantial reductions in these pollutants,” said the report. “There is a conspicuous lack of regulations for power plant stack emissions. Enforcement of what standards [which] do exist, is nearly non-existent,” it says.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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