New Delhi: India’s coal-based power sector may seek to avoid compliance with the strict emission norms that are due to take effect next month, according to a new analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based think tank.
The norms were put in place by the environment ministry in December 2015, just before the Paris summit on climate change to reduce air pollution and water usage by the thermal power producers.
Emissions by the thermal power sector are significant in India, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China. About 58% of the installed power generation capacity of 331,117.58 megawatt (MW) is fuelled by coal.
The new norms had tightened emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and reduced water usage by coal-fuelled thermal power plants from December 2017.
According to CSE, of the total emissions from the industrial sector, the power sector alone contributes 60% of the PM (particulate matter), 45% of sulphur dioxide, 30% of nitrogen oxides and 80% of mercury emissions.
“Though the industry was given two years to comply, there has been very little progress so far. The norms come into effect from December 2017, but the CEA (central electricity authority) is now recommending that plants be given another five years—which means the deadline should be extended from 2017 to 2022—to comply with the new norms," said CSE in a statement.
CSE has recommended to the environment ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India’s top pollution watchdog, not to accept the fresh timelines proposed by power ministry and the CEA.
“We have not taken any decision to amend the December 2015 notification till now. But ministry is not expected to toe a hard line for its implementation....We may give the sector some time to comply with standards," a top official of the Union environment ministry said on condition of anonymity.
“We have given our comments and then the matter is under discussion with the ministry of environment and forests," said minister of state for power and new and renewable energy Raj Kumar Singh at a press conference.