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Approval of Coal With Higher Ash Content Based on Technical Study: Centre to NGT

Approval of Coal With Higher Ash Content Based on Technical Study: Centre to NGT

The National Green Tribunal in Delhi. Photo: Max Goth/Flickr, CC BY NC ND 2.0

New Delhi: The Union government has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that its notification allowing thermal power plants to use coal with higher ash content than earlier is based on technical study and in light of representations from the stakeholder ministries.

In a joint response filed by the environment ministry and the Ministry of Coal, the government said emission norms and instructions for utilisation of fly ash have been notified which are applicable to the thermal power plants (TPP).

“TPPs have to take prior EC and comply with EC conditions for control of environmental impact. Notification dated May 21, 2020 will not affect the requirement of adherence to the laid down norms.

“If higher ash content in the coal is not permitted, washing of coal will be required to reduce the ash content and, in that process, apart from pollution in transportation more water will be wasted,” the NGT was informed.

The counsel for both the ministries submitted that overlapping issues are pending consideration before the Supreme Court and parallel proceedings before the tribunal may not be appropriate.

The counsel for the parties agreed before the NGT that the issue raised herein can be addressed in the matter pending before the Supreme Court.

The green panel took note of the submission and disposed of the plea.

The submission was filed in response to a plea filed by NGO ‘Say Earth’ against the May 21, 2020 notification issued by the MoEFCC under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, permitting the use of coal with ash content higher than permitted earlier, saying it is causing damage to the environment.

The environment ministry in May last year decided that it will no longer regulate the ash content of coal used by thermal power plants.

It issued a notification that overturned its January 2014 regulation that made it mandatory for all coal-based power plants located 500 km or more from the pit-head or coal mine to use raw or blended or beneficiated coal with no more than 34% ash content.

Under the new notification, thermal power plants will be able to use coal irrespective of ash content and will be liable for proper disposal of coal ash and meeting emission standards set by the apex pollution monitoring body.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in its response before the NGT said as the policy lies within the purview of the ministries, it had nothing to say in the matter.

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