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EMISSION NORMS Jakhar blasts PPCB for pleading pvt thermal power plants’ case

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON FEB 07, 2020 11:13 PM IST

Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Friday blasted Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for pleading the case of private thermal power plants in the state with the Centre for extra time for the installation of fuel gas desulphurisation (FGD) units to meet emission norms.

Taking strong exception to PPCB’s move to recommend two more years for these thermal power units for installation of pollution control devices, Jakhar said he was surprised that the state board was so indulgent towards these private power producers that it went to the extent of pleading their case. “What was the need to step in on their behalf? This was serious laxity by the PPCB. Whether it was due to negligence or connivance needs to be looked at,” he told reporters.

Referring to “exorbitant” fixed charges, the Punjab Congress chief said the closure of these private plants would save the government 4,600 crore over two years and more money on account of the coal washing charges. On January 31, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued notices to 14 thermal power plants, including three in Punjab, for their failure to meet emission norms with regard to the discharge of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitric oxide and sought their reply.

The pollution regulator had asked them to install fuel gas desulphurisation by the end of 2017 and the deadline was later extended by two years to December 31, 2019, but none of the five thermal power plants in Punjab, including three private ones, have met the deadline. The private power producers in the state have been under fire over high fixed charges with demands from within the ruling and opposition parties for cancellation of their power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited during the previous SAD-BJP government.

Jakhar said he would approach chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to request him to look into this personally and stop power production at private plants without any further delay, as by law, they should not have operated beyond December 31 due to their failure to comply with the deadline. “This is a godsend which the government can ignore at its own peril. The law department also failed in its duty to take note of this opportunity and brief the CM,” said Jakhar, urging the CM to fix accountability for these slip-ups.

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