PTPC yet to start work to curb pollution

Thermal power plant (Image for representation)

Set to miss the December 2019 deadline to meet new emission norms, the Panipat Thermal Power Station (PTPS) in Haryana is yet to award a contract to install modern equipment to cut down on pollution, according to officials.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had on November 13 issued a show-cause notice to the PTPS, warning that its Unit 7 could be shut down for failing to meet the year-end deadline to cut down emissions of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

It had given 15 days to the power station to file a reply.

Though the power plant management is yet to respond to the show cause notice, it is likely to seek some more time to reduce pollution.

The Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited (HPGCL), which operates the plant, is still to award a contract to install modern flue-gas desulphurisation (FGD) units, which cut emissions of sulphur dioxide, in Unit 7 of PTPS.

Asked if they would be able to meet the 2019 deadline, Mohammed Shayin, the managing director of HPGCL, said, "We had floated tenders to install FGD units, but the tenderers quoted abnormally high rates. So, nothing has been finalised yet. We have initiated the re-tendering process."

When the HPGCL consulted the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited on the issue, it also said the rates were unreasonably high, according to Shayin.

"We are going to write to the CPCB, informing it about the status. We cannot buy anything which makes the plant uneconomic," he said.

After the contract is awarded, it will take the contractors at least nine months to install the FGD units, Shayin claimed.

According to HPGCL's own estimates, the PTPS is set to miss the deadline to curb pollution as per the new norms.

Asked if the plant could be shut down, Haryana Pollution Control Board Member Secretary S Narayanan said, "There are reports that say the thermal power plants at Jhajjar and Panipat are comparatively better in handling emissions than those in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Technically, Panipat and Jhajjar power stations are more equipped to deal with pollution. But, I have to verify the reports."

The CPCB did not reply to phone calls and messages for comment.

In the show cause notice to the power plant, CPCB chairman S P Parihar had said, "PTPS, HPGCL (Haryana Power Generation Corporation), Haryana, is hereby directed to show cause as to why unit 7 of the plant should not be closed in view of non-compliance."

During source emission monitoring of operational units of the PTPS on October 9, a CPCB team had found Unit 7 to be non-compliant with the prescribed emission standards.

The concentration of PM emissions from Unit 7 was 180.3 milligrams per cubic metre against the prescribed standard of 150 mg/Nm3, according to the CPCB.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had in 2015 come up with new norms for coal-based power plants to cut down emissions of PM10, SO2 and NOx.

The earlier deadline for power stations to adhere to these guidelines was December 2017. However, 440 power plants, which had been ordered to install modern FGD units, did not comply with the deadline.

The Central Electricity Authority then chalked out a detailed plan to retrofit old thermal plants across the country with required equipment to comply with the new norms by 2022. For thermal power plants in the National Capital Region (NCR), the deadline was 2019.

According to a Centre for Science and Environment report released in February this year, most power plants in Delhi-NCR are set to miss the December 2019 deadline.

The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had earlier said Jhajjar and Panipat power plants in NCR will be shut down if they fail to comply with emission norms by 2020. 

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