Nitro-boosting crops: Scientists have shown for the first time how reduction in NOx pollution levels can help boost agricultural productivity in different geographies | Photo: Pixabay

Study: Cutting NOx emissions by half leads to dramatic gains in crop yields

A new study shows that cutting NOx pollution levels by about half would improve crop yields by about 25% for winter crops and 15% for summer crops in China, nearly 10% for both winter and summer crops in Western Europe and roughly 8% for summer crops and 6% for winter crops in India. 

The Stanford University-led study published in Science Advances, uses satellite images to show for the first time how nitrogen oxides – gases found in car exhaust and industrial emissions – affect crop productivity. NOx gases, invisible to humans, were precisely mapped by new satellites. Similarly crop production was also measured from space, which allowed scientists to assess how NOx affects agriculture in different regions.

Govt to miss deadline to cut emissions from coal plants for the third time, seeks extension till 2035

India’s power ministry has sought another extension for 80% of the coal plants to install emission-cutting equipment, which would lead to violation of the deadline to clean up dirty air for the third time. India has already missed the deadline to install flue-gas desulphurization (FGD) pollution cutting technology twice (2017 and 2022). FDG equipment controls toxic sulphur dioxide emissions from plants.

After the guidelines first came into place in 2015, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has now suggested extension of the deadline till 203. The government said the CEA had informed that the project cost for wet lime-based FGD technology was Rs 0.39 crore per megawatt (MW). At present, the cost has reached Rs 1.14 crore per MW, which is nearly three times of the initial cost.

Around 98% of Maharashtra affected by air pollution: study 

A new study by the World Bank Group  has ranked Maharashtra third in the list of most polluted sub-national regions globally, with 97.6% of its population exposed to either hazardous or unsafe levels of air pollution, specifically PM2.5 aerosols as per the WHO standards.

Citing analysts, Hindustan Times reported that interior Maharashtra faces greater air pollution compared to coastal regions because it is industrialising and expanding at a very rapid pace. The Madhya (central) Maharashtra and Vidarbha face harsher winters which worsens the pollution. Maharashtra is planning to install 47 new air quality monitors across the state in the next few weeks, HT reported.

The paper — ‘Air Pollution and Poverty: PM2.5 Exposure in 211 Countries and Territories’, used remote sensing data for aerosol concentration, population numbers from the WorldPop Global High Resolution Population data set (WPGP) and a chemical transport model to ascertain the movement of PM2.5 pollutants.

NGT orders Adani thermal power plant in coastal Karnataka to pay up for pollution

The Adani-owned Udupi Power Corporation Ltd (UPCL) thermal power plant in Udupi district of Karnataka landed on hot water this week as the NGT slapped a Rs52 crore fine for damage caused to the environment and health of those living close to the plant. The NGT also found that the company had illegally tampered with pollution monitoring systems and directed officials to take action on the matter. Half of the compensatory sum will be used to “evolve a scheme for providing necessary environmental infrastructure improvement water supply, sewage, STP, Solid Waste Management, Health facility and skill development programme.” While UPCL has already deposited ₹5 crore in compliance with an interim order, the remainder is to be paid within three months. The NGT also instituted a joint committee comprising deputy commissioner, director of agriculture and horticulture and a senior scientist from CPCB to look into the agricultural impact of the plant within a 10km radius. The state and central pollution control boards (KSPCB and CPCB) have also been directed to initiate prosecution or impose additional compensation for tampering with the Online Continuous Emission Monitoring System.