Thermal power plants leading to spike in SO2, NO2: study

The govt. notified norms for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions in December 2015, but these have not been implemented, says expert

May 24, 2016 12:00 am | Updated September 12, 2016 08:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Clusters of thermal power plants in Northern India were the sources of growth in emissions of highly toxic and reactive gases in the past few years, a report released here on Monday found.

The report titled “Out of Sight: How coal burning advances India’s air pollution crisis” by Greenpeace India used satellite imagery from 2009 to 2015 to find that areas that had thermal power plants in Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli, Chhattisgarh’s Korba and Raigarh, Odisha’s Angul, Maharashtra’s Chandrapur, Gujarat’s Mundra and the National Capital Region were behind the growth in emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

Rise in emissions

As per the report, emissions of the toxic sulphur dioxide gas increased by 31 per cent from 2009 to 2015.

The emissions of nitrogen dioxide, which is highly reactive, increased by 20 per cent during the same period.

Both these gases react in the air to form secondary particles, which account for a major chunk of Delhi’s pollution.

The Greenpeace report showed that the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) rose by 13 per cent in the past five years.

Sunil Dahiya, one of the authors of the report and a campaigner with Greenpeace, said that many studies had earlier found that 30 to 34 per cent of the total PM2.5 concentration in the country was due to secondary particles.

“Most of these secondary particles are formed from burning of fossil fuels, like in thermal power plant. It is no coincidence that the hot spots of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide overlap with the areas with highest coal consumption,” said Mr. Dahiya.

In Delhi, Mr. Dahiya said that though the power generation was limited, emission from thermal plants in the National Capital Region was affecting air quality in the city.

‘Clear link’

In fact, a recent report by IIT-Kanpur had said that a plan to reduce pollution in Delhi must include a radius of 300 kilometres around the Capital.

“We have established a clear link between thermal power plants and rise in pollution in the region. There is an urgent need to get emissions from these plants under control,” said Mr. Dahiya.

Emission norms

The government had notified norms for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions in December 2015, but these have not been implemented till now, said Mr. Dahiya.

He added that these norms should be in place within two years from the notification to have an impact on air quality.

As per the report, emi 31 per cent from 2009 to 2015

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