New Delhi: Even after multiple extensions, only 5 per cent of India’s coal-fired power plants have installed flue gas de-sulfurisation (FGD) systems, which are air pollution control devices for sulphur dioxide emissions, a new analysis has said. The analysis by environmental think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is based on the updated FGD status released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the technical arm of the Ministry of Power, in April. The Union environment ministry had specified the emission norms for coal-based power plants in December 2015. However, these have been diluted for various parameters, and deadlines have been repeatedly extended.
According to the CSE analysis, the 5 per cent of plants that have so far installed FGDs for controlling sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions include 9,280 MW that have been reported to have commissioned FGDs and another 1,430 MW that claim to be SO2 compliant.
The lack of information about on-ground inspections by regulatory bodies raises doubts about the accuracy of these claims, Anubha Aggarwal, programme officer, industrial pollution unit, CSE said.
The installation of FGD systems takes around two years followed by temporary shutdowns for necessary arrangements. The CSE researchers estimated the likelihood of power plants meeting emission norms based on their compliance stage and the remaining time until the deadline.
The analysis revealed that 43 per cent of capacity within a 10 km radius of Delhi-NCR or cities with a population of 1 million or more (Category A), 11 per cent of capacity within a 10 km radius of critically polluted areas (Category B), and 1 per cent of the remaining capacity (Category C) are unlikely to meet the norms by the latest deadlines of 2024, 2025, and 2026, respectively.
However, the report noted a slight improvement compared to the previous assessment, attributing it to deadline extensions and increased clarity regarding capacity that was previously unreported by the CEA.
The researchers found only 0.81 GW of newly commissioned capacity complying with norms, approximately 13 GW likely to comply due to deadline extensions, around 23 GW capacity exploring FGD feasibility, and approximately 2.47 GW identified for decommissioning.
The CSE report also criticised the lackadaisical approach of power generation companies, highlighting the National Electricity Plan’s justifications for delays, such as dependency on the external market for FGD components, the novelty of the technology in the Indian market, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It emphasised the need for compliance and highlights that power plant emissions can contribute to air pollution beyond their boundaries.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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