Power plants, brick kilns may miss clean air action plan deadline
The fight against air pollution in the National Capital Region could be hit as two polluting sectors — thermal power plants and brick kilns — are unlikely to meet the deadline of switching over to cleaner fuel and technology, a survey by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has stated.
In 2015, the union environment ministry had announced new emission norms for thermal power plants across India. For power stations located within 300 km of the Delhi-NCR, the deadline for meeting the norms is December 2019. The CSE study, however, indicates that nearly 80% plants will not meet the deadline.
The study maintained that although owners of over 3,000 brick kilns operating legally in the NCR had agreed to convert to Zig-Zag technology — which would have brought down the emission by 70% — only around one-third of the kilns have shifted to the new technology so far.
“Delhi-NCR’s comprehensive clean air action plan is floundering because of the apathy of the regulatory agencies. Our survey of brick kilns and thermal power plants shows that despite regulations and intervention of the Supreme Court and the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, the implementation on the ground is highly compromised,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE.
Both brick kilns and power plants are major users of coal. Even though there have hardly been any study to quantify how much pollution comes from brick kilns, experts said that this sector contributes a significant portion of PM2.5 levels. Similarly, fly ash, which comes from power plants, contribute to around 35% of Delhi’s PM10 load.
Moreover, poor conversion quality in brick kilns is threatening to throw the gains off gear. The study says that only around 20% of the kilns have done good conversion. The conversion quality of more than 50% kilns is unsatisfactory and such conversions will not lead to any real gains in pollution control.
In case of power plants, the scenario is equally grim. The study shows that while 83% of the plants will not be able to meet SO2 norms within the 2019 deadline, nearly 50% of the plants won’t be able to meet the NO2 norms within the deadline. As far as emission of particulate matter is concerned around 35% of the plants are unlikely to meet the standards.
“As things stand, 80% of the plants will not meet the 2019 deadline. A suitable penalty mechanism should be introduced as a deterrent to ensure that plants stay on track to meet the norms,” said Priyavrat Bhati, programme director (energy unit), CSE.