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Coal plants - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore
Coal plants


What’s in news?

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has sent show cause notices to 14 thermal power plants for not complying with the 31st December, 2019 deadline to limit sulphur dioxide emissions.


  • Coal-based power plants have been one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, with power generation accounting for over 80 per cent of the industrial SO2 emissions in India.
  • The CPCB measure is particularly significant against the backdrop of the government’s thrust on reducing dependence on non-renewable resources and switching to renewable energy.
  • The measures to regulate SO2 and NOx were first introduced by the Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in 2015, and all coal-fired power stations were expected to retrofit and reduce pollution emissions within two years.
  • The plants were asked to install Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) to remove SO2 from exhaust flue-gas by the end of 2017.
  • The deadline, later extended by another two years, ended in December 2019.
  • In the national capital region (NCR) alone, 33 power units were to be upgraded through installation of the FGD.
  • Of those, only two units, at Mahatma Gandhi Super Thermal Power Project, Jhajjar Power Station, CLP India Pvt Ltd, completed the installation.
  • The other 31 units in the NCR, with a combined capacity of 9,470 Mw, are yet to complete the process.

Key data’s:

  • Taking a strict view of thermal power stations’ failure to meet emission standards, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued warnings to 14 plants across six states of the country.
  • The notices were issued to plants located in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act.
  • The CPCB warned the power plants of immediate closure and imposition of an environmental compensation if they failed to respond.
  • The CPCB has the power to impose steep fines or shut a unit under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  • To limit Particulate Matter (PM), sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emission from thermal plants, India has put in place a phased-approach that directs coal-fired units to put in place measures to limit pollution by December 2022.
  • 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.
  • However, plants in a 300 km radius of Delhi were to comply by 31st December, 2019 because of the poor air quality in the city as well as the surrounding Gangetic plain.

Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD):

  • It is a set of technologies used to remove Sulphur dioxide (SO2) from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants.
  • Flue gas is a mixture of gases produced by the burning of fuel or other materials in power stations and industrial plants and extracted via ducts.

Central Pollution Control Board

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • The CPCB is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

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