The notification issued by the environment ministry discards the union power ministry’s recommendation seeking extension up to 2034 and also a one-year pause to watch the benefits before undertaking Rs 2 lakh crore of investment in all projects that raises tariffs.
As per the notification, power plants under Category A (within 10 km radius of National Capital Region or cities having million plus population), can now implement the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment by December 2024 against the earlier deadline of December this year.
FGD equipment cuts emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide.
Deadline for plants falling under Category B or within 10 km radius of Critically Polluted Areas has been revised to December 2025 from December 2023 earlier. All other plants were required to implement FGD by December 2024, which has now been revised to December 2026.
The penalties for non-compliance have been revised to 20 paise per unit of power generated in the first 180 days, 30 paise per unit for next 181-365 days and 40 paise beyond a year. Earlier penalties were upto 20 paise per unit.
ET had on August 15 reported that based on studies by IIT Delhi and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the power ministry said the implementation of FGD equipment raises the emission of carbon dioxide. It, therefore, had suggested that in the first phase only 4,430-Mw thermal stations in sensitive zones be retrofitted. Areas around about 21 units with 5200-MW capacity had high SO2 levels.
The CEA study found no action is required for plants located in other regions as the SO2 level in ambient air of these areas is very less and as per CPCB, the quality of air is good with regard to SO2.
The power ministry suggested studying the performance of FGDs in the first phase for at least one year for comparing the benefits vis-à-vis the impact of increased emission of greenhouse gases while fixing timelines for the following phases.
IIT Delhi had recommended the implementation of phase 1 from now till July 2025, the second phase from July 2026 till July 2029, and the third from July 2029 to July 2031. The fourth and fifth phases can be implemented between July 2021 and July 2034.
The CEA has also said that given equipment supply constraints, the country will take 14 years if it has to install emission control equipment in all of its coal-fired stations.