Green norms: most Indian thermal plants non-compliant, says CSE

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

The much-maligned thermal power generation industry continues to be dogged by environmental issues.

According to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) under the Green Rating Project (GRP), not only are Indian power plants some of the most inefficient ones, but also one of the most polluting ones.

The project analysed 47 thermal plants across 16 States and found that the sector, on the whole, was “one of the most non-compliant industrial sectors in the country.”

It added that according to a report published by the Central Pollution Control Board, officially 27 per cent of the plants in the sector were not complying with the regulations.

CSE’s own analysis, however, pegs the number at over 40 per cent. Of the 47 plants for which data were studied by CSE, 20 received scores below 20 per cent (to as low as 6 per cent) implying “regular non-compliance, poor performance and management practices”.

Improper fly ash disposal, storage and use, high air pollution, water pollution, and wasteful use of water were the most worrisome issues facing the sector.

The GRP, which gives five leaves as award for performance exceeding requirements, four for good compliance, three for average, two for below average and one for poor performance, could not award a single leaf to these 20 plants.

Yet, even the best thermal plant in the country in terms of environmental compliance and performance – CESC-Budge Budge in West Bengal – received a score of just 52 per cent, or an average rating of three leaves. To put this in perspective, Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director-General of CSE, said that a plant that was following all the best practices would receive a score of 80 per cent.

Incidentally, the country’s largest coal-power producer – NTPC – was found to be below par, with all six of the NTPC plants analysed getting just one or no leaves at all.

NTPC’s Badarpur plant in Delhi was the worst of the lot.

The problem of poor compliance in the sector is compounded by the power deficit in India, which “gives the industry enormous amount of leverage” the study notes.

Several plants, against which show-cause notices have been issued and are recognised as serious defaulters are still not shut down.

Published on February 22, 2015

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