India: Coal plants may get incentives worth over $12 billion to cut emissions

Even as state loans to big coal utilities turn sour, India plans to give incentives worth Rs 885 billion ($12.4 billion) to help them install equipment to curb pollution and set up infrastructures for EVs. The decision comes after repeated calls by large thermal power producers for subsidies to the capital cost, and approximately Rs835 billion will be used for technology to reduce sulphur emissions of the coal power plants. Coal companies will also be allowed to pass on the expected increase in tariffs to their customers.

The Ministry of Environment had set up stringent emission standards back in 2015, but the December 2017 deadline for compliance has been extended till December 2022 as thermal power plants struggle to install the pollution control technologies.

India’s top two automakers may replace diesel cars with petrol, CNG cars  

The country’s air quality may get a small, but significant boost in terms of NOx and PM emissions as India’s top two automakers, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra, may replace their diesel-fueled cars with petrol and CNG cars. The decision is being pondered upon as the price differential between the fuels – 17.2% between petrol and diesel in January 2018, vs 7.1% today – has narrowed to a point where the extra input cost on diesel vehicles is no longer justified.

However, while Maruti may even completely abandon its diesel lineup, Mahindra may continue to use diesel power plants for its large SUVs.

Cooking roast dinner causes indoor pollution ‘worse than Delhi’

US researchers have found that roasting a meal of meat and vegetables at home causes indoor pollution ‘worse than Delhi’. The roasting makes air inside homes far dirtier than the world’s most polluted cities, scientists said. Roasting on a gas burner releases soot and tiny organic particles from gas flames, vegetables, oils and fat together, shooting up the deadly PM2.5 particulate matter inside the house to levels 13 times higher than those measured in the air in central London.

According to the researchers, PM2.5 levels in the house after roasting rose to 200 micrograms per cubic metre for an hour – much higher than Delhi’s the 143 micrograms per cubic metre average and central London’s average of 15 micrograms per cubic metre.

Toxic air: What Delhi can learn from London

Invest in clean public transport on priority and provide improved agricultural equipment to farmers to put an end to biomass burning – that’s the advice of a UK expert on cleaning Delhi’s polluted air. Professor Frank Kelly, chair in environmental health at King’s College London, told Times of India that investment in clean industries is also essential.

The report compared what London is doing right that Delhi isn’t. For example, the city levies a £10 “toxic charge” on old polluting vehicles and an £11 congestion charge, it follows emission standards that are expected to reduce NOx emissions by 50%, it offers an over £300 million subsidy to retrofit buses, and runs zero-emission taxis.

Air in Patna, Varanasi and Kanpur worse than Delhi: Study

As Delhi hogs maximum press for its killer air, a recent report by IIT Kanpur on episodic air pollution for 45 days in October and November found that Patna, Kanpur and Varanasi are more polluted than the national capital, recording 70% “poor” and “very poor” air quality days. Based on data collected from October 15 to November 30, 2018, from low-cost monitoring devices installed in nine cities, Delhi ranks 4th in pollution levels with 51% “very poor” days, followed by Jaipur and Ranchi. Here’s a reminder from experts that air in other cities in India is not any better, and episodic air quality, mostly in north Indian cities, falls to levels worse than Delhi.

Kolkata to get 15 more manual AQI monitoring stations

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) will install 15 more manual air quality monitoring stations in Kolkata to get to the specific sources of pollution in the city. These stations are among 31 monitoring units the state government plans to set up across the state of West Bengal for which tenders have been released. Pollution Control Board official told Times of India that sources and degree of pollution are place-and-time specific which is why area specific units are important to record fluctuations.

Bloomberg, TERI to support India’s National Clean Air Programme

Bloomberg Philanthropies and Delhi-based think-tank TERI will help India resolve issues related to air pollution under its ambitious National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), reported Times of India. TERI statement said it would help mitigate air pollution — both at the national level and in a group of Indian cities, “through emission inventories and source apportionment studies”.

The joint project also plans to formulate action plans to tackle air pollution on the basis of data and increase capacities of stakeholders. Under NCAP, 102 cities in India will be funded for city-specific plans to reduce air pollution by 25-30% by 2024-25.

Top Court blocks Vedanta’s plan to restart polluting copper smelting plant

In a huge victory for the local population of Tuticorin, the Supreme Court of India has set aside the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) decision allowing Vedanta to restart its polluting 400,000 metric tonne copper smelting plant in the city. The top court allowed the firm to move the high court against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to shut the plant following massive anti-pollution protests of May 2018 that claimed 13 lives. The NGT had set aside the state government’s orders of the shutdown, calling it “unjustified”.

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