Is Sulphur Dioxide a Problem in India's Ambient Air?

April 27, 2021

In 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) introduced a notification asking coal-based thermal power plants (TPPs) to comply with stringent emission norms. The TPPs were given a fixed deadline of December 2017 to mandatorily comply with the norms. Once the 2017 deadline approached, however, the Union Ministry of Power submitted another phase-in plan to MoEF&CC and requested for further extension of another seven yearsÐtill 2024Ðto meet the norms. The Supreme Court after much deliberation granted another five-year extension to enable power plants to meet the deadlines in a phased manner till December 2022.

So farÐin 2021Ðonly one-third of the plants have taken serious initiatives to meet the new norms. Also, an extension provided by MoEF&CC on 1 April 2021 extended the timelines for the majority of coal-based power plants in India, which are now allowed to comply with the emission norms in another three to four years. Failing this, power stations will be allowed to pay a meagre penalty and continue to spew emissions. In this scenario, it seems unlikely that the sulphur dioxide emission norms will be met, particularly the norms that are violated most.


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