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A recent opinion poll to understand the perception of the Indian population towards electricity generated from coal-fired power plants reveals that Indians are well aware of the environmental costs of using coal and believe that the country’s long-term energy needs will be best served by investing in renewable energy options such as solar and wind.

The opinion poll was conducted by Bengaluru-based AZ Research for Australian environmental group Market Forces. A total of 1,000 people from the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were interviewed over the telephone for the opinion poll. The target audience included both males and females in the age group of 18 to 50 years across all socioeconomic groups in urban India.

The results of the opinion poll come at a time when both Adani and GVK are in the process of implementing mega coal projects in Australia.

Adani’s Carmichael coal, railway and port project includes building Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the north Galilee Basin approximately 160 km northwest of Clermont in Central Queensland, linked by a new 388-km standard gauge rail line to a new terminal at Abbot Point Port near Bowen. The company claims the project will provide over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and supply opportunities for local businesses.

GVK has entered into a joint venture with Australian company Hancock Prospecting for developing the potential of the Galilee Basin. The development is expected to bring online high quality, low ash, low sulphur and low gas thermal coal deposit that will offer the ability to lower emissions from coal-fired power generation. According to GVK Hancock, the Galilee Basin integrated pit to port project comprising mining, rail and port will create over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute to the economic development of the region.

Both Adani and GVK plan to import coal from their Australian mines for power generation within the country.

Key findings
Among the respondents in the opinion poll that was conducted to understand the public perceptions in India about coal energy, 68 per cent said they believed the country’s long-term energy needs were best served by investing in renewable energy options such as solar and wind. Only 29 per cent favoured building more coal-fired power plants.

On the impact of new coal-fired power plants on energy poverty, 56 per cent of the respondents felt that those without access to electricity had been left behind while 38 per cent believed that the new coal fired power plants had reduced energy poverty.

To a question as to whether the environmental and health costs of electricity production from coal-fired power plants were justifiable, 58 per cent of the respondents said the costs were not justifiable.

The opinion poll found that at an overall level, more than half of the respondents were aware of Adani/GVK. On the issue of import of coal from the proposed Adani and GVK mines in Australia for power generation in the country, only 31 per cent of the respondents were in favour while 69 per cent opposed it. At the state level, resistance was highest in Maharashtra and Gujarat and least in Delhi.

Among those opposed to the import of coal, 30 per cent were equally concerned about environmental and economic impacts, 24 per cent concerned only about environmental impacts and 44 per cent concerned only about economic impacts. The respondents were told about a study that had stated that the cost of electricity generation using imported coal from these mines would be twice as much as the national average and more expensive than renewable energy from solar and wind.

“Adani and GVK’s Australian coal export plans are not only at odds with the environment and climate, but also India’s power policy and the Indian public,” said Market Forces Lead Campaigner Julien Vincent in a statement.

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