Power Troubles: A Short History of Arvind Kejriwal’s Anti-Coal Wokeism

by Tushar Gupta - Oct 11, 2021 01:12 PM +05:30 IST
Power Troubles: A Short History of Arvind Kejriwal’s Anti-Coal Wokeism New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
  • For long, Kejriwal and his aides have been attacking the usage of coal.

    Now, ironically, he has written to the Prime Minister seeking a solution to the apparent coal shortage.

Crashing the Titanic of ‘free power to the residents of Delhi’ into what the Centre has termed as an exaggerated crisis of coal shortage, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for urgent help.

Penning another one of his letters, Kejriwal highlighted the shortage of coal, claiming that it was prevailing since August 2021. Listing out the coal stock situation and the stress on the gas plants in the wake of coal shortage, Kejriwal urged the Centre to take control of the situation, as they had during the first and the second wave of the coronavirus spread.

However, as it turns out, Kejriwal is caught in the web of his anti-coal wokeism. For long, Kejriwal and his aides have been attacking the usage of coal.

Merely a week ago, Kejriwal’s government released a 10-point winter action plan to combat pollution. The plan was to combat the impact of stubble burning by the farmers of Punjab, the same farmers that the Kejriwal government has put on a political pedestal for the last year or so. Listing out the achievements in combating pollution in the city, Kejriwal claimed credit for shutting down two coal-fired thermal power plants.

Earlier this year, in June, the Delhi government filed a petition in the apex court demanding closure of 10 thermal power plants in the vicinity of the national capital, citing the use of outdated technology.

Gopal Rai, the environment minister in the Kejriwal Cabinet, stated that the 10 thermal power plants in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh were adding to the pollution in Delhi. In his letter to the Prime Minister on October 9, Kejriwal requested the diversion of coal from some plants operating in the vicinity of the capital. The plea to the apex court was also withdrawn a month later after political backlash from the state governments of Punjab and Haryana.

In a blog post on the party’s website back in 2019, AAP claimed that Delhi was the first state in India to ban the use of coal completely. In retrospect, that may have been an attempted poll gimmick to appease to the voters.

Kejriwal has extended this anti-coal wokeism to other states as well. Around November 2020, Kejriwal called out Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for letting Goa become a coal hub. Targeting three big infrastructure projects, one of them being an expansion of the national highway, Kejriwal riled up a political feud on Twitter with the CM of the state, blaming the Centre for forcing coal projects on the state.

The wokeism on show is an extension of the hypocrisy the Delhi Government has displayed with respect to the stubble burning issue. Already, the capital and the regions in the vicinity are beginning to feel the impact of the stubble burning, and in the next few days, the smog blanket will engulf the national capital region.

However, Kejriwal, who is now pointing to the rising pollution levels due to stubble burning, and attributing it to the lack of action by the state governments of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh was the first to speak against the new farm laws that put a curb on the unchecked stubble burning.

The Centre has been quick to call out Kejriwal’s gimmicks. Union Power Minister RK Singh called out the unnecessary panic created about the coal shortage, and assured that the supply-side situation would only improve in the next few days. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, however, dismissed these assurances.

While supply-side issues can be attributed to the unprecedented rainfall during September, impacting production, increased demand for power in the wake of a V-shaped recovery, and increased prices of imported coal, the Delhi government has a lot to answer for, given they were spearheading the anti-coal campaign for almost two years now and claiming that Delhi had banned coal.

Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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