Noxious: India's top court has permitted the dilution of NOx emission norms after persuasion from the Centre | India Environment Portal

Govt convinces top court, dilutes NOx emission limit for coal power plants

India’s Supreme Court has allowed the government to relax emission norms for coal power plants set up between December 2003 and 2016. Such plants can now emit 450 milligram / normal cubic metre (mg / Nm3 ) oxides of nitrogen (NOx), up from 300 earlier.

Experts said cleaning up the polluting sector is “absolutely non-negotiable” because it accounts for 60% of total PM emissions from all industry, 45% of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and 30% of NOx emissions. The Centre recommended watering down emission limits claiming that meeting 300 mg / Nm3 and below was not possible at varying load. 

To verify the claim, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in collaboration with National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC), monitored emissions at seven units of four thermal power plants between February 13 and April 2, 2019. Five of them complied with NOx emission standards of 300 mg / Nm3 at full load. Some units didn’t during partial load operations.

Even after getting a five-year extension, most of the total installed coal-fired capacity will not be compliant with the crucial SO2 and NOx standards by 2022.

After 4 ash dyke breaches in one year, NTPC to pay Rs10 crore interim compensation

India’s green court National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered state-owned power company National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to pay interim compensation of Rs10 crore for the breach of its fly ash dyke into Rihand reservoir, which took place on August 7, 2019, and October 6, 2019, respectively, at its facilities in Singrauli and Sonbhadra districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. NGT also ordered NTPC to build a wall to strengthen the ash dyke.

NTPC’s nine major thermal power stations operate out of Singrauli and Sonebhadra, with a total installed power generation capacity of around 21,270 megawatt (MW). Over half of this capacity was added in the past 10 years, leading to the generation of excessive amounts of fly ash, which has polluted a large part of the region. Over the past one year, four breaches of ash dyke have taken place. 

The NGT had directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare an action plan for de-silting of the reservoir. In Punjab, the NGT has asked for a restoration plan and assessment of compensation for the damage caused by fly ash generated by Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL) in Mansa district. The residents and farmers in the region have complained about the air pollution and damage caused to the soil by radioactive and heavy metals in coal and fly ash. Indian coal has a higher percentage of ash (30-45%) compared to other countries, experts said. 

Carbon tax works, CO2 emissions fall by 2% annually, says ‘largest-ever’ study

If the industry is charged for burning fossil fuels, emissions fall — that’s the conclusion of the “largest-ever” study on impact of tax on burning fuels. Scientists found that average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 2% annually over 2007–2017 in countries with a carbon price in 2007 and increased by 3% annually in the others. 

Scientists analysed over 20 years of data from 142 countries, 43 of which had a carbon price of some form by the end of the study period. The emissions grew at an average rate of 2% annually, the study said.

Researchers pointed out that the difference between an annual increase of 3% and an annual decrease of 2% is five percentage points. About two percentage points of that are due to the carbon price, the rest due to other factors such as improving technologies, population and economic growth, economic shocks, renewable energy and differences in fuel tax rates, analysts said.

Green court raps Uttar Pradesh top officer over violating brick kiln ban in NCR

India’s green court The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has declared Uttar Pradesh government order allowing brick kilns to operate in the National Capital Region null and void, as it violated the tribunal’s directives. The NGT had banned operation of brick kilns in the NCR until the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reported on impacts of industry’s waste on the environment. 

The CPCB submitted its findings on July 6, but the UP government allowed kilns to operate from March 29, a week after lockdown was imposed. The CPCB recommended a ban on brick kilns during the winter (October-February) as the atmosphere had no assimilative capacity, but allowed only a restricted number of kilns to operate during the summer (March-June).

The NGT was approached by an applicant who cited media reports of alleged 40% increase in cancer and asthma cases in Baghpat district and sought action against 600 allegedly illegal brick kilns operating in the area. 

Expanding cleaner CNG fleet, no logic in making diesel cars: Maruti sales director 

Maruti, India’s largest selling carmaker, said it finds diesel cars economically unviable. Shashank Srivastava, executive director (sales and marketing) at Maruti Suzuki India, said there was “no logic” in developing a small diesel engine, sedans and entry-level SUV segment, “as now economics does not support it.” 

The diesel prices are as high as petrol now and the new BS-VI emission norms have increased the cost of diesel cars, leaving them with very few buyers. Maruti is expanding its CNG fleet. The company has set an ambitious target of selling 10 lakh cars with green technology over the next few years. The CNG segment grew last fiscal by 7%, while the overall passenger vehicle industry declined by 18%.

About The Author