Most India Coal Plants May Miss Emission Deadline, Study Says
Trucks sit parked as smoke rise from a chimney at the Tata Power Co. Trombay Thermal Power Station in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg) 

Most India Coal Plants May Miss Emission Deadline, Study Says

(Bloomberg) -- A majority of India’s coal-fired power stations may miss deadlines to curb toxic emissions, hurting efforts to curb air pollution, according to non-profit group Centre for Science and Environment.

As much as 70% of the country’s coal-fired capacity is at risk of missing the 2022 deadline for capping emissions of sulfur di-oxide, the environment group, also called CSE, said in a report.

Indian power generators have moved slowly on implementing the pollution standards, voicing concerns ranging from high costs to financing challenges and lack of regulatory clarity. Business disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic may exacerbate those worries. In addition, the government plans to open up coal mining to the private sector, an indication the polluting fuel will remain the mainstay of the country’s energy needs.

“We cannot accept that we will continue to use coal without emission control,” CSE said in an emailed statement about the report. “We want growth post-lockdown, but it has to be a growth which comes with our right to clean air. This must be equally important.”

There’s little information in the public domain on compliance with nitrogen oxides and particulate matter standards, CSE said in the statement.

India’s environment ministry introduced the emission rules in Dec. 2015 and gave the plants two years to comply. The deadline was later extended to as late as 2022. A bunch of plants close to capital New Delhi have already missed their Dec. 2019 deadlines for installation of the anti-pollution equipment.

Coal-fired power plants supply nearly 70% of India’s electricity and have an important role in the country’s economy. Yet, they’re are among the biggest sources of pollution, accounting for more than 60% of the particulate matter emissions from all industry, as well as 45% of sulfur di-oxide releases, according to CSE.

With nationwide implementation of the emission standards, India could avoid more than 300,000 premature deaths through 2030, according to a study by Bengaluru-based Center for Study of Science, Technology & Policy.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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