The closure of a few coal-fired power plants within 300 km radius of Delhi last year helped reduce pollution levels, the government has said. In November last year, India had temporarily shut down six of the 11 thermal power plants (TPPs) within 300 km radius of Delhi in view of hazardous air quality in Delhi-NCR. The directions were extended till December 15 as the air quality remained in the adverse range.
''It is a well-established fact that coal is a heavy polluting fuel. Shutting down of a few coal-fired power plants located within 300 km radius of Delhi in December 2021, along with a series of other measures taken in various sectors, helped in reducing pollution levels,'' Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
BJD MP Amar Patnaik had asked whether shutting down of a few coal-fired power plants around Delhi in December 2021, as mandated by the Commission for Air Quality Management, helped reduce Delhi-NCR's pollution. The Delhi government had earlier shutdown three TPPs operating within the capital permanently -- Indraprastha power plant in 2009, Rajghat plant in 2015, and Badarpur plant -- in 2018. India has already extended its December 2017 deadline for TPPs to meet the emissions standards.
In April last year, the Environment Ministry issued amended rules allowing thermal power plants within 10 km of the National Capital Region (NCR) and in cities with more than 10 lakh population to comply with new emission norms by the end of 2022.
TPPs in ''non-attainment cities'' and those within 10 km of critically polluted areas are required to meet the emission norms by December 31, 2023.
Non-attainment cities are those which have consistently failed to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The CPCB has identified 132 such cities.
Coal-fired power plants in the rest of the areas have to comply with the new standards by December 31, 2024. Major pollutants from coal-fired power plants are oxides of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM).
According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), TPPs account for more than 60 per cent of total industrial emissions of particulate matter; 45 per cent of SO2; 30 per cent of NOx; and more than 80 per cent of mercury, in the country.
These are also responsible for 70 per cent of the total freshwater withdrawal by all industries, according to an analysis by the green think tank.
A report by the CSE in 2020 showed that only two out of the 11 power plants located around Delhi had SO2 control technology.
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