Deadline extended, Maha power plants far from using green tech | Nagpur News – Times of India

920" src=",width-1070,height-580,imgsize-37783,resizemode-75,overlay-toi_sw,pt-32,y_pad-40/photo.jpg" class="attachment-post-thumbnail size-post-thumbnail wp-post-image" alt="Deadline extended, Maha power plants far from using green tech | Nagpur News – Times of India" decoding="async" />

Nagpur: The extension of deadlines for coal-fired power plants to install pollution control technologies has proved to be a blessing in disguise for units in Maharashtra. Latest data shows that most of the units were far away from being on track.
According to the latest data of Central Electricity Authority (CEA), most of the power plants in the state would have violated emission standards had it not been for the extension granted by Union environment ministry on September 5.
The country’s first emission norms for control of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and mercury (Hg) emissions from coal-fired power plants were notified in December 2015, giving a deadline of December 2017 to power plants for compliance. However, after a series of dilutions and delays in implementing emission standards, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has once again extended the timeline for the third time, delaying it to 2027 for retiring units and 2026 for non-retiring units.
The delay is a huge setback for Maharashtra, which has the highest number of non-attainment cities in the country. Of the 72 units at 23 plants having installed coal-based power generation capacity of 25 gigawatt (GW), hardly 14 with 4.3 GW have either installed flue gas desulphurization (FGD) or claim to be SO2- limit compliant, as per CEA’s latest update.
FGD is a technology that curbs SO2 emissions from thermal power plants.
Apart from this, 4.8 GW has awarded bids for FGD installation while the remaining 15.2 GW capacity spread across 43 units is yet to award the bids, after which it takes roughly 36 months to install the technology.
Strongly condemning the extension, environmentalists fear that it will further encourage the power plants to not act on protecting public health by regulating pollution emissions. “It is very distressing that Maharashtra, a state already grappling with air pollution crisis and having the most polluted cities, has not made concrete efforts towards installing pollution control technologies in the last seven years. Most of the plants haven’t even awarded the bids to install FGD. This shows how power generators do not care about public health but only making profits,” said Sunil Dahiya, analyst at Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
Stating that the extension has made the implementation of norms a farcical process, Shripad Dharmadhikary, founder and coordinator of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, said, “The deadline has already been extended several times without any adequate reasoning and completely ignoring the price that is being paid in terms of people’s health due to the unchecked pollution. The fact that the Ministry of Power has been pushing for extensions continuously and the environment ministry acceding quietly raises serious doubts about the intentions of the authorities towards the norms.”
Environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta, also the founder of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), stated that another extension shows that the emission norms will never be implemented. “All power plants were required to achieve the target for emission standards by December 2017. All missed the target on one pretext or the other. Now, the deadline has been further extended.
“Unfortunately, the Environment Ministry has become an advisory ministry rather than a regulatory ministry. Rather than taking punitive action against the violators, all that it is doing is succumbing to the dictates of other ministries,” said Dutta.