A new analysis by researchers shows that the new thermal power plant norms issued by the Union environment ministry last month, which allowed them flexibility in meeting certain criteria, could compromise India’s emission reduction goals that are part of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
The new rules, which came into effect on March 31, give an extension of 1 to 3 years to all thermal power plants to comply with emission norms that are mandated by the government.
What makes it worse is that the penalty charged to companies for not complying with the extended deadline is even lower than the cost of complying with rules that are meant to reduce emissions, an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment has found. This means that thermal power plants can continue to pollute by paying a lower price for not installing pollution control devices.
CSE’s analysis released on Thursday shows that while installing the equipment for pollution control will cost between ₹40-100 lakh/MW, the penalty that a 500 MW thermal power plant will have to pay to keep running without installing the equipment is only ₹5-11 lakh/MW as per the new amendment.
Similarly, the maximum penalty imposed on non-compliant thermal plants is 20 paise per unit of electricity.