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India's pollution regulator ponders coal plant penalties

Wed 29th January, 2020 4:05pm
* Penalties will be adjusted to reflect progress
    * Deadlines seen as too taxing
    * Most plants have missed deadlines

    By Sudarshan Varadhan
    NEW DELHI, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Authorities are assessing how
seriously to punish the operators of coal-fired plants around
New Delhi that missed a year-end deadline to fit equipment to
curb harmful emissions, a senior official at the federal
pollution regulator said on Wednesday.
    Under a planned phase-in of higher standards, some plants
were given until the end of December, while others had until the
end of 2022. Most plants so far have missed their deadlines.
    Prashant Gargava, member secretary at the Central Pollution
Control Board (CPCB), said action taken against non-compliant
power plants will take into consideration any efforts made so
far.
    "Action has to be based on the level of progress that they
have made individually, and we are working on that," Gargava
said at the TERI World Sustainable Development Summit 2020 in
New Delhi on Wednesday.
    The regulator warned last year coal-fired plants could be
shut down for failing to meet deadlines.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2883DT
    Only one out of the 11 plants around New Delhi has installed
equipment to cut emissions of sulphur oxides. Four of the
remaining 10 plants have awarded bids for retrofitting the
technology, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) said.
    It said six plants have not awarded bids yet.
    From the date of commissioning, it takes at least 27 months
to install the technology, according to industry estimates.
    By that measure, more than half of India's coal-fired power
plants ordered to retrofit equipment are set to miss the phased
deadlines, Reuters reported in November.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N27T3VB
    Gargava did not specify the nature of penalties that would
be imposed. However, he said the deadlines were too stringent.
    "The 2019 deadline was sort of pushing the power plants in
national capital region (NCR) beyond their capacities," he said.
    The country's power ministry has asked for coal-fired power
plants around New Delhi to be given more time to install
equipment to reduce emissions, after the year-end deadline for
action passed, Reuters reported this month.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N29F19A
    The utilities have blamed costs and technical difficulties
for missing an earlier deadline at the end of 2017 and then at
the end of 2019.
    Power plants around New Delhi are operated by state-run NTPC
Ltd  NTPC.NS , Vedanta Ltd  VDAN.NS , Larsen & Toubro Ltd
 LART.NS  and state government-owned power generators.

 (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan, editing by Barbara Lewis)
 ((Sudarshan.Varadhan@thomsonreuters.com; +919810393152;
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sudvaradhan @sudvaradhan;))
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