Beyond reason: NTPC’s proposal to allow for thermal plants to emit more NOx emissions defies all logic and could endanger many more lives | Photo: NTPC

India pushes to dilute norms to cut deadly NOx emissions?

After delaying the emission deadline from 2017 to 2022, India’s power industry, led by state-run NTPC, now wants to raise limits for deadly NOx emissions  from 100 mg/Nm3 to 450 mg/Nm3, saying international technology to cut Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) doesn’t work in India. According to an Indiaspend report, the government has already filed an affidavit in the top court to dilute the norms, for power plants that came up between 2003 and 2016 from 300 mg/Nm3 to 450 mg/Nm3. 

The NTPC is now suggesting that norms for new plants commissioned after 2017 also be diluted from 100 mg/Nm3 to 450 mg/Nm3, the Indiaspend probe found. Experts said if the plants had followed the 2017 NOx deadline, 28,000 deaths every year could have been avoided. NOx causes respiratory infections after it takes the form of PM 2.5 – one of the major factors behind lethal air in Indian cities. Even the lowest Indian NOx norm of 100 mg/Nm3 is twice the world’s strictest norms of 50 mg/Nm3 set by China for its coal power plants. Experts say the European Union, the US and China are using the same technology rejected by NTPC. 

Installing NOx-cutting technologies will cost Indian thermal plants between $1.8 billion and $2.3 billion), far less money than the health benefits of cutting this pollutant, says a joint study by IISD and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW). The study said non-compliance would result in nearly 300,000-320,000 premature deaths by 2030. 

Adani, NTPC pushed government to extend deadline to install clean tech

Investigations by Reuters have revealed that top coal power generators Adani Power and NTPC  pressured the government to extend the deadline to install emission reduction technology by two to three years, delaying emissions targets for a second time. India’s power ministry pushed for coal-fired power plants around New Delhi to be given more time to install equipment. Experts point out that If the government keeps diluting the norms every time polluters wish, India will fail to meet the  National Clean Air Programme target of reducing PM 2.5 pollution by 20-30% by 2024.

150 industrial units near Delhi using polluting coal, rice husk, wood as fuel

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) chairman Bhure Lal has warned polluting industry units in Kaushambi in National Capital Region of Ghaziabad, to shift to less polluting fuel or face closure. According to UP industries Federation, around 50 units in the township were using coal and rice husk as fuel. The EPCA chief warned them to shift to PNG, which the industry lobby says would result in 25% increase in fuel expenses. There are around 150 industries in Ghaziabad that are running on highly polluting coal and agricultural waste. The central government has given a year’s time to all industries in NCR to stop using coal, wood, rice husk and other traditional energy sources.

Green court gives four months to finish study on automated tyre recycling units 

Can the highly polluting process of recycling old tyres to produce industrial oil and other products be curbed by automated plants? That’s the study National Green Tribunal, India’s green court, wants the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct within four months. The CPCB said there are nearly 520 functional pyrolysis units in the country, and around half of them are not complying with the norms. The central pollution watchdog said because of action by state pollution control boards, number of complying units have increased. Pyrolysis, which involves recycling old tyres through a thermochemical treatment under high temperature, causes high levels of pollution and harms the health of workers. The green court has directed the CPCB to regulate import of waste tyres so that India does not become a dump yard for highly polluting hazardous waste material from other countries. 

Festive season over, discounts on polluting BS-IV cars continue to be offered

Carmakers may have reduced discounts on polluting BS IV vehicles as their inventory of obsolete BS-IV fuel standard cars come down to manageable levels thanks to sales in festive season, but discounts are not going anywhere just yet. The car companies were offering discounts of as high as Rs 1 lakh on polluting models ahead of transition to BS VI models from April 2020. Maruti Suzuki sold BS-IV stocks as its sales increased by 5-7% during the festive period.  Nikunj Sanghi, president of the Automative Skill Development Council said most manufacturers are continuing to produce BS-IV cars as there was no clarity on the availability of new BS-VI fuel across India, therefore discounts would continue to be offered.