Of the total 169.7GW coal capacity in the country, plants with only 27 per cent capacity have awarded bids for FGD implementation. Around 72 per cent capacity haven’t even awarded the bids.
Only 1 per cent of the total coal-fired power plant capacity which is required to comply with the emission standards under the current phasing plan have installed the mandatory flue-gas desulphurisers (FGD), an equipment to control toxic sulphur dioxide emissions. Of the total 169.7GW coal capacity in the country, plants with only 27 per cent capacity have awarded bids for FGD implementation. Around 72 per cent capacity haven’t even awarded the bids. This data was presented by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) during a webinar on emission standards compliance for coal power plants organized by CREA and Climate Trends on Friday.
CREA further pointed out that if bids for FGD installation were yet to be awarded for a majority of the coal capacity, recent claims by power plant operators that the China power equipment ban would delay their ability to comply with emission regulations, were redundant. “India is in a position to construct retrofits without depending upon China,” the organization stated.
Experts present in the webinar also slammed the Association of Power Producers (APP) for demanding another extension for thermal power plants for implementation of emission standards. “Companies like BHEL have the technology and can adapt it to our needs. China is not the only supplier. Besides, Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative is all about producing locally. The only thing stopping pollution control technology installation is not funds or lack of tech but lack of willingness,” said Sunil Dahiya, analyst at CREA.
The coal power plant operators that did not comply with the 2020 deadline have been asked by the Central Pollution Control Board to cough up a huge fine. Experts however pointed out that the penalties range between just 0.12 per cent to 3.28 per cent of the total energy cost.
“No significant penalty is being charged for non-compliance. The penalty is token at best. Until a clear policy directive comes from the Centre, it is difficult to get power producers to take compliance seriously,” said Karthik Ganesan, fellow at Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW).
Stating that power producers were spending lakhs in legal fees to delay implementation of norms, noted environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta stated that this was a criminal violation of an order by Union environment ministry and a clear lack of intention.
“Covid and 2020 will be used as an excuse to further justify delays in 2022. The National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC) approached the Supreme Court four days ago to challenge an order by the National Green Tribunal to cover coal carrying trucks with tarpaulin. If a basic pollution control measure like tarpaulins can’t be followed through, there is clearly no intention of complying, ” he added.