CSE hails govt's stringent pollution norms for thermal plants

Welcoming the government's move to tighten pollution norms for coal-based thermal power plants, a green advocacy body Tuesday said the proposed new emission and water consumption standards will help bring down pollution in this sector.

New Delhi: Welcoming the government's move to tighten pollution norms for coal-based thermal power plants, a green advocacy body Tuesday said the proposed new emission and water consumption standards will help bring down pollution in this sector.

The Environment Ministry has come out with the draft notification that proposes stringent pollution norms, to be implemented in two years, for coal-based thermal power plants.

Currently, the country has no standards for pollution caused by sulphur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and mercury emissions from this sector.

"We welcome this move. It will have an impact on the pollution caused by the thermal power sector in India," Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said in a statement.

The new standards are expected to cut particulate emissions from new plants by 25 per cent, SO2 emissions by 90 per cent, NOx emissions by 70 per cent and mercury emissions by 75 per cent as compared with the existing state-of-the-art plants, it said.

The plants established after 2003 will need to meet slightly lower standards, while plants older than 2003 will be required to meet more relaxed norms.

"We believe these lower standards are acceptable given technical and economic limitations in installing pollution control equipment in older units," said Priyavrat Bhati, CSE's Director for Green Ratings Project.

The new norms will require all existing cooling tower-based plants to restrict water consumption to 3.5 cubic metre per watt hour (m3/MWh). Plants which will be set up after January 2017 have to achieve 2.5 m3/MWh.

Also, all existing once-through-cooling (OTC) system plants will need to be replaced with cooling tower-based systems that consume no more than 4 m3/MWh.

"This can have a remarkable reduction in freshwater withdrawal by thermal power plants ? cumulatively, freshwater withdrawal will decrease from around 22 billion cubic metre in 2011-12 to around 4.5 billion cubic metre in 2016-17, an 80 per cent dip," CSE said.

Of the total pollution from the sector, the coal-based power sector currently accounts for approximately 60 per cent of particulate emissions, 45-50 per cent of SO2 emissions, 30 per cent of NOx emissions and more than 80 per cent of mercury emissions.

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