With the Central Electricity Authority proposing a plan to allow coal-based thermal power plants another five years to comply with new environmental norms, environmentalists have raised issues with the new proposal. Drawn up in 2015, the new norms required power plants to cut down on pollutants — particulate matter, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, and mercury — by December 7.
“SOx is a major pollutant and the industry was given two years’ time to upgrade their systems. The CEA’s five-year plan is heavily back-loaded, with most of the work slated to begin from 2020. It has no written commitments from any station. Any plant can easily manipulate SOx emissions. The EPCA has warned several power stations to follow norms if they want to remain operational,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general, Centre for Science and Environment, said. In the NCR, there are around seven-eight such plants that won’t meet the deadline, Bhushan added.