The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 14 thermal power plants for not complying with a December 31, 2019 deadline to limit sulphur dioxide emissions.
These are 5 plants in Haryana, 3 in Punjab, 2 in Uttar Pradesh, 2 in Andhra Pradesh, 2 in Telangana and 1 in Tamil Nadu with a total capacity of approx 15 GW that have missed the deadline.
To limit particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emission from thermal plants, India put in place a phased-approach that directs 440 coal-fired units — responsible for about 166,000 MW of power — to put in place measures to limit pollution by December 2022.
However 11 plants in a 300 km radius of Delhi were to comply by December 31, 2019 because of the poor air quality in the city as well as the surrounding Gangetic plain.
Some of them claimed to have set in place the process for acquiring flu-gas desulphurisation technology where as others said they were yet to award tenders. Only one of these plants has actually implemented technology to limit emissions.
Plea in NGT
Non-compliance by the thermal power plants is an ongoing dispute being contested at the National Green Tribunal through a petition filed in April 2017.
There is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court regarding the extensions given to these plants.
The 14 plants have been given until the end of this month to explain to the CPCB why they have not complied with the norms and why action should not be taken.
The CPCB has the power to impose steep fines or shut a unit under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act.
As per Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) estimates, these norms can help reduce PM emissions by about 35%, NOx emission by about 70%, and SO2 emissions by more than 85% by 2026-27 against a business-as-usual scenario with no pollution control technologies.