Acting tough on non-compliant thermal power plants, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued show cause notices to 14 coal-based power plants in six states asking them to respond why these plants should not be closed down and environmental compensation be imposed for their failure to reduce emissions.
Four such plants are located in Haryana while three are in Punjab, two each in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and one in Tamil Nadu. Total installed capacity of these 14 thermal power plants is approximately 15,000 MW. Nine such polluting plants are located roughly within 300 km radius of Delhi.
These plants will have to respond to the show cause notices by February 15. “Adequate action will be taken against them under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 if they fail to provide valid reasons,” said an official.
Action against them include outright closing down of the plants till they install Electrostatic Precipitators (ESP) to limit PM emission and Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) to meet new emission limits for SO2, and imposing environmental compensation (penalties). These plants have missed their respective deadlines to install/retrofit required equipment to limit emissions.
The show-cause notices were sent to these plants by CPCB chairman, S P S Parihar, on January 31 —just a day ahead of the 2020-21 budget presentation where the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 proposed to close down highly polluting old thermal power plants.
“Strict action against these power plants for non-compliance will set a good precedent for other plants which have a deadline to reduce SO2 emissions (or emission of other pollutants) for this year and next three years. Other plants may expedite their actions fearing similar strict penalties and shut downs for inaction,” said Sunil Dahiya, analyst at Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
The CPCB in its periodic review in December last year found that some of these plants failed to meet their sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission standards while others failed to reduce emissions of both SO2 and particulate matter (PM).
The thermal power stations/plants (TPS/P) in Haryana which received the CPCB’s notice on January 31 include Indira Gandhi TPS, Jhajjar; Deen Bandhu Chhotu Ram TPS, Yamunanagar; Panipat TPS, Panipat and Rajiv Gandhi Thermal Power Project in Hisar. Tamil Nadu’s lone such non-compliant plant is in Chennai (North Chennai TPS-II).
Power plants in Punjab include Rajpura TPP, Patiala; Talwandi Sabo Power plant, Mansa and Guru Hargobind Singh TPS, Bhatinda. In UP, National Capital TPS of NTPC at Dadri and Harduaganj TPS, Aligarh were sent notices. Such plants in Telangana include Kothagudem TPS, Khammam and Singareni TPP, Adilabad whereas the Andhra Pradesh plants include Damodaram Sanjeevaiah TPP, Nellore and Vizag Hinduja TPP, Visakhapatnam.
The environment ministry had in December 2015 notified new emission limits for SO2, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and mercury for coal/lignite-based thermal power plants, expecting that the reduction in these emissions will help in improvement of ambient air quality.
Initially, the deadline to meet the new emission standards through installations of required equipment was fixed as December 7, 2017. But later, it was extended to December 31, 2019 for SO2 and December, 2022 for NOx when the power plants flagged “technical challenges” in implementing the order by the initial deadline. Considering the impact of coal-fired power plants on ambient air quality in Delhi-NCR, the deadline for thermal power plants located within 300 km radius of Delhi was kept as of December 31, 2019.
Source: Feb 5, 2020, The Times of India