The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued a show cause notice to North Chennai Thermal Power Station asking why it shouldnâ€™t be shut down for not reducing emissions. Similar notices have been sent to four other thermal power plants in south India.
According to the notice dated January 31, 2020 sent by CPCB to the North Chennai Thermal Power Station, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) amended the emission norms for particulate matter and also notified new limits for Sulphur Dioxide and Oxides of Nitrogen emissions from thermal power plants in 2015. As per the amendment, thermal power plant units having less than 500 MW capacity and installed before December 31, 2003 shall limit their Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Oxides of Nitrogen emissions to 600 mg/Nm3. Their particulate matter emission shall be under 100 mg/Nm3. Plants installed from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2016 shall restrict their particulate matter emissions to 50 mg/Nm3 and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) emissions to 600 mg/Nm3 (for Units Smaller than 500MW capacity units) and 200 mg/Nm3 (for units having capacity of 500MW and above). The emission of Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) shall be kept under 300 mg/Nm3.
The notification had given the power plants two yearsâ€™ time to bring down their emissions within the limits specified in the notification -- ie., by December 7, 2017.
The North Chennai Thermal Power Station-II was also given a deadline of December 31, 2019 to install various devices including electrostatic precipitators, flue gas desulphurisation and low nitrogen oxides burners which would enable the plant to reduce emissions. However, when the CPCB conducted a review on December 30, 2019 to check the compliance of the plant with the emission norms specified by the ministry and found that the plant has not complied with the specified norms.
Hence, the CPCB has raised questions as to why unit 1 of the power plant must not be shut down for continuously violating emission norms and why an environmental compensation must not be levied on the unit for not complying with the norms. The CPCB has also given the plant 15 days to respond to the notice, failing which strict action will be taken under the Environment (Protection) Act.
The other thermal power plants that have been served notices in south India are Kothagudem Thermal Power Station in Khammam, Singareni Thermal Power Plant in Adilabad, Sri Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Plant in Nellore and Vizag Hinduja Thermal Power Plant in Vishakapatnam.