Several coal-fired power plants, including those in the national capital region, are likely to have missed the revised deadline to retrofit equipment to curb air pollution, industry estimates showed.
A total of 47.95 gigawatts thermal power capacity missed the December 31, deadline to install Flue Gas Desulphurization (FDG) units to minimise SO2 emissions, the estimates prepared by private power producers showed.
These include coal-fired units in the national capital region.
Coal-fired power plants, which produce three-quarters of India's electricity, account for some 80 per cent of industrial emissions of sulfur and nitrous-oxides, which cause lung diseases and smog.
Power plants were asked to install FGD units, which cut emissions of sulfur dioxides, in phases. In all 440 coal-fired plans that produce 166.5 GW have to comply with the regulation by December 2022. More than one-third of these had to retrofit equipment by December 2019.
The power plants that missed the deadline to cut emission levels across the country included 33 units with a total capacity of 18.12 GW in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Another 20 units with a total capacity of 11.3 GW are located in southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu, the estimates showed.
In addition, 7 units of capacity 8.04 GW operated by private firms located in Haryana and Punjab are expected to miss the deadline, the estimates showed.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had previously set December 2017 as the deadline for meeting the emission standards but extended it by two years as the country adopted a phased approach for thermal power plants to comply with emission norms, which involve installing FGD units that cut emissions of sulfur dioxides.
If the plants are not compliant within the December 31, 2019 deadline, CPCB has the authority to take the necessary action as per the law and court guidance, industry sources said.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had on December 7, 2015, brought out new norms for coal-based power stations to cut down emissions of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to improve the air quality around power plants.
To meet the new emission norms, the installation of the FGD system was essential in new as well as existing thermal power plants.
Sources said a handful of plants had complied with the norm but most have missed the deadline. As many as 267 units, which produce 103.4 GW of power, have to be compliant between December 2019 and February 2022.
In the national capital region, only two of the 33 coal-fired units, which produce some 12.79 GW of power, have installed FGD units so far.