Daily News Analysis

Pollution by thermal plants

3rd April, 2021 Environment

GS Paper I: General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity & climate change – that do not require subject specialization

Pollution by thermal plants

Context: India pushes deadline for coal-fired utilities to adopt new emission norms.

More about news:

  • India had initially set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to install Flue Gas Desulphurization units that cut emissions of sulphur dioxides.
    • Flue gas desulfurization removes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from flue gases.
    • Its Dry sorbent injection systems that introduce powdered hydrated lime (or other sorbent material) into exhaust ducts to eliminate SO2 and SO3 from process emissions.
  • India has pushed back deadlines for coal-fired power plants to adopt new emission norms by up to three years.
  • It allowed utilities that miss the new target to continue operating after paying a penalty.
  • The new order dated April 1 from the Environment Ministry says plants near populous regions and the capital New Delhi will have to comply by 2022, while utilities in less polluting area shave up to 2025 to comply or retire units.
  • Operators of coal-fired utilities including State-run NTPC Limited and industry groups representing private companies have long been lobbying for dilution of the pollution standards, citing high compliance costs.
  • A task force will be constituted by the Central Pollution Control Board to categorise plants in three categories “on the basis of their location to comply with the emission norms.
  • In case of non-compliance, a penalty of up to 0.20 rupees ($0.0027) will be levied for every unit of electricity produced.
  • The Power Ministry said that a “graded action plan” could help avoid immediate increase in power prices in various relatively clean areas of India and avoid unnecessary burden on power utilities and consumers.
  • Indian cities have some of the world’s most polluted air.
  • Thermal power companies, which produce three-fourths of the country’s electricity, account for some 80% of its industrial emissions of particulate matter, sulphur- and nitrous-oxides, which cause lung diseases, acid rain and smog.