Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MOEF&CC) has notified new stricter environmental norms on 7 December, 2015 for Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) for Particulate Matter (PM), SOx, NOx, Mercury (Hg) and water consumption. These norms were to be complied by 7 December, 2017 for TPPs installed before 31.12.2003 and TPPs units installed after 01.01.2003 up to 31.12.2016.

TPPs to be installed from 01.01.2017 were to comply with these norms from the date of installation or commissioning. To meet the new emission norms, certain pollution control equipment are to be retrofitted like upgradation of Electrostatic Precipitators for PM, installation of Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) system for SOx, combustion optimization/post combustion & De-NOx systems for NOx control.

Installation of such equipment’s requires certain time period and certain time for shut down of power plants.

As per Section 7 of the Electricity Act, 2003, setting up of a Thermal Power Plant is a de-licensed activity. However, Thermal Power Plants require Environment and Forest Clearances from MoEF&CC before construction of a power plant. Further, before start of operations of the power plant, TPPs requires Consent to Operate from respective State Pollution Control Board (State PCB).

In order to ensure that there is no disruption of power supply in the country and taking into account the time required as well as the techno economic challenges, a phased implementation plan from 2018 to 2022 for installation of FGD in plants for a capacity of 1,61,402 MW (414 Units) and upgradation of ESP in plants for a capacity of 64,525 MW (222 units) was prepared by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in consultation with the stakeholders in the Regional Power Committees (RPCs) which are bodies for coordinated Generating unit Outage Planning.

This plan was submitted to MoEF&CC on 13.10.2017. Based on the directions of MoEF&CC on 07.12.2017, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued directions to all such Thermal Power Plants to ensure compliance of the revised timelines as per above phasing plan.

As per the MoEF&CC notification, TPPs installed (commissioned) after 01.01.2017 are required to meet the new environmental norms from the date of such installation (commissioning). The environmental clearance for such TPPs was already accorded before issuance of new environmental norms by MoEF&CC.