Central India Extends Deadline for Coal Plants to Cut Sulphur Emissions

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India has announced a two-year extension for coal-fired power plants to install equipment that reduces sulphur emissions, marking the third postponement of a commitment to improve air quality. Indian cities suffer from some of the most polluted air globally. Thermal power plants, responsible for 75% of the country’s power generation, contribute to around 80% of industrial sulphur and nitrous-oxides emissions, leading to lung diseases, acid rain, and smog.

Originally, India set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to install flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) units to reduce sulphur emissions. This deadline was later extended to varying dates for different regions, with the final deadline now set for 2025. According to the latest announcement, power plants failing to meet sulphur emission norms by the end of 2027 will be shut down.

Plants located near densely populated areas and the capital, New Delhi, will face penalties if they do not comply by the end of 2024, while facilities in less polluted areas will be penalized after the end of 2026. The federal power ministry requested the extension, citing increased costs, funding shortages, delays due to COVID-19, and geopolitical tensions with China, which has imposed trade restrictions.

The decision to extend the deadline will be welcomed by operators of coal-fired power plants, including private companies like Tata Power and Adani Power, who have been advocating for less stringent requirements.

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