Power Minister Piyush Goyal today said the Environment Ministry is on board to consider extension of December 2017 deadline for coal-based thermal power plants to meet stricter emission norms.
“I don’t want that we import equipment (to meet deadline for meeting emission norms). We realised after discussions that it would put more burden on the consumer and they will have to pay more for electricity,” Goyal told reporters at an NTPC conference here.
He was responding to queries on Environment Ministry’s tougher norms for power plants relating to consumption of water, particulate matter, SO2, NOx and mercury.
“We took up the issue with Environment Ministry. They agreed with us that deadline should be extended so that old polluting plants can be replaced with supercritical super efficient plants. This will reduce the pollution to just 10 per cent of the existing levels of these old plants,” he said.
“The discussions are on to increase the deadline. I think it should be extended (beyond December 2017) because it should be done in a way so that the poor should not be affected,” the minister added.
In December, 2015, the Environment Ministry had brought new norms for coal-based power stations to cut down emissions of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and improve the ambient air quality around power plants.
The ministry had for the first time fixed SOx and NOx norms for power stations and mandated that plants adhere to these guidelines by 2017.
According to industry estimates, the cost for technical changes at these plants could be up to Rs 1.5 crore per megawatt. Besides, the domestic capacity to manufacture power equipment for the upgrade is not more than 15 GW a year, compared to demand of around 40 GW per annum for meeting SOx norms alone.