The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change ("MoEFCC"), by its Notification dated December 7, 2015 ("Original Notification"), amended Schedule I of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 ("EPA Rules"), prescribing, inter alia, permissible thresholds for emission of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and mercury by coal based thermal power plants. The revised emission standards prescribed under the Original Notification were linked to the year in which the relevant thermal power plant had been commissioned. The standards, as specified in the Original Notification, were to be complied with by the relevant power plants within 2 (two) years from the date of publication of the Original Notification i.e., by December 6, 2017. This meant that various thermal power plants had to make substantial capital investment to install specialised emission reduction equipment. While the power plants would be eligible to avail regulatorily determined increase in tariff, commensurate with regulatorily approved capital cost, the uncertainties and delays in grant of tariff increase remains a concern.

The MoEFCC, in its Notification dated March 31, 2021 ("FGD Notification I"), had categorised thermal power plants into 3 (three) categories and prescribed the revised timelines for compliance with the amended emission norms under the EPA Rules. The Central Pollution Control Board, on December 13, 2022, released the list of thermal power plants as per the categorisation required under the FGD Notification I. Subsequently, the MoEFCC, by its Notification dated September 5, 2022 ("FGD Notification II"), extended the timelines set out in the FGD Notification I for implementation of emission norms specified in the amended EPA Rules. The categories of thermal power plants and the timeline for compliance with the amended EPA Rules are set out below:

# Category Location Timeline (for non-retiring units)
1. Category A Within 10 kms of National Capital Region or cities having million plus population Up to December 31, 2024
2. Category B Within 10 kms radius of critically polluted areas or non-attained cities1 Up to December 31, 2025
3. Category C Other than those included in Category A or B Up to December 31, 2026

This extension of timelines would provide some reprieve to various thermal power plants.



Originally published 30 September, 2022

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