NEW DELHI: In what could be an effective way to tackle the air pollution problem associated with straw burning, all coal-based thermal power plants located in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas will be mandated to use a minimum blend of 5%. Pellets made of crop residues with annual charcoal.
The Environment Ministry has brought out draft rules in this regard, providing for penalty (environmental compensation) for non-compliant power plants from the compliance year 2024-25 onwards.
The final rules – called the Use of Agricultural Residues by Thermal Power Plants Rules, 2023 – will be notified after two months after incorporating stakeholders’ views on the draft issued on Thursday. The ministry asked experts and others interested in offering any objections or suggestions on the proposals to forward their comments within 60 days.
“This is a good move that will help reduce the spread burning of crop residues and help generate energy for electricity use, avoiding the need for coal. It will also help reduce air pollution caused by straw burning as power plants will have better pollution control devices to control pollution at source,” said Sunil Dahiyaanalyst, Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
After the rules come into effect, 12 coal-fired power plants will have to follow mandatory use rules that fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM). Non-compliant power plants are required to provide graded environmental compliance as per the amount prescribed under clause 2 of the rules in terms of per unit electricity.
“This notification shall be deemed to be a change in the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission or the law for the purpose of fixing tariffs. State Regulatory Commission(relevant) in respect of compliance with Section 2, as the case may be,” the ministry said.
The government, meanwhile, has directed all thermal power plants to install biomass pellet production plants (torrified / non-torrified) on their premises or in cluster based models including private sector thermal power plants. The concerned state governments have been directed to facilitate the supply of land for setting up pallet manufacturing units.