By Rupin Chopra and Apalka Bareja
Categorization of Power Plants as per the Notification dated 31.03.2021 of Government of India issued to amend the earlier Notification dated 07.12.2015 regarding emission standards for coal-based power plants
The notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on March 31, 2021 to amend the Environment Protection Rules and put coal based thermal power plants into three categories – namely Category A, B and C. The notification also stated that a task force will also be constituted by the Central Pollution Control Board to categorise these power plants into these three categories.
Recently the ministry has uploaded the final categorization on the website of the Central Pollution Control Board. Earlier according to the notification issued by the Ministry in 2015 the deadline for the compliance with these regulations was 2017 but the deadline was extended by a period of five years till December 2022. But still the compliances were not met and there was constant pressure to push the deadline and dilute the norms in one way or another.
The norms to be complied with
The parameters or regulations that these coal-based power plants must comply with are mentioned in the table below.
|Parameter||SOx (mg / Nm3)||NOx (mg / Nm3)||PM (mg / Nm3)||Water (m3/MWh)||Mercury (Hg)
(mg / Nm3)
|Units installed before December 31, 2003||600 (<500 MW) 200 (≥ 500 MW)||600||100||3.5||0.03 (≥ 500 MW)|
|Units installed between 2004 and 2016||600 (< 500 MW) 200 (≥ 500 MW)||Initial: 300
|Units installed from January 1, 2017||100||100||30||Initial: 2.5 Revised: 3||0.03|
Categorization of Thermal Power Plants
The amendment revised the compliance deadlines and different deadlines were set up depending upon the categorization of the power plants. The categorization of the power plants was done based on their location and the task force categorised 596 power plants in the following categories.
|S. No.||Category||Location/Area||Timeline for Compliance|
|Non-retiring Units||Retiring Units|
|1||Category A||Within 10 km radius of National
Capital Region or cities having
million plus population
|Up to 31 December
|Up to 31
|2||Category B||Within 10 km radius of
Critically Polluted Areas or
|Up to 31 December 2023||Up to 31 December 2025|
|3||Category C||Other than those included in category A and B||Up to 31 December 2024||Up to 31 December 2025|
*Population as per 2011 Census of India and definition of non-attainment cities as defined by CPCB
78% of the power plants fall under Category C and for them the compliances must be met by December 2024. Approximately 11% fall under Category A and approximately around 11% in Category B making up the remaining 22%.
Retiring power plants will have to submit an undertaking with the CPCB and CEA for exemption and so that they can comply with the deadline as mentioned in Column (5) of the table above.
Penalty in case of non-compliance
The non-retiring power plants must comply with the norms according to the deadlines mentioned in the notification otherwise environment compensation will be levied as a form of punishment as a result of non-compliance.
|Non-compliant operation beyond the timeline||Environmental Compensation (Rs. Per unit electricity generated)|
|Category A||Category B||Category C|
|366 days and beyond||0.20||0.15||0.10|
These are the categories that the coal-based thermal power plants across the nation have been divided into by the task force. The deadline has been time and again delayed ultimately resulting in the stalling of the implementation of an action plan to deal with the emissions norms. Emission from Coal thermal power plants contributes substantially to the degradation in the quality of air due to the presence of harmful pollutants (over half sulphur dioxide (SO2) concentration, 30 per cent oxides of nitrogen (NOx), 20 per cent particulate matter (PM) in the ambient air come from these power plants). Therefore, it is important for the timely implementation of the norms that have been devised by the Ministry in accordance with CPCB without any unnecessary delay and influence from the power plants to further push the deadline.
 Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2021
 Minutes of 4th meeting of the Task Force held on 06/12/2021 circulated by the Ministry via order dated 13/12/2021.
 Supra note 1
 Supra note 1