Thermal plants emission guidelines

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Coal-based power plants emit a large range of externalities, which impact the local and regional air qualities, which further have a significant impact on human health. Air pollution occurs when there is a release of harmful particles in large concentrations. Burning coal to produce electricity releases PM10, SO2 (Sulphur Dioxide) NOx (Oxides of Nitrogen) and Hg (Mercury). If the emission trends of thermal power plants remain unchanged, projections estimate that these pollutants are capable of causing an estimated 1.3 million deaths in India per year by 2050

With the primary aim of minimising the effects these four pollutants on air pollution, the Central Government set certain guidelines that were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) in December, 2015 for coal-based Thermal Power Plants in the country.

The guidelines aim at reducing the emission of PM10, Sulphur Dioxide and Oxides of Nitrogen, thereby, aiming to improve the Ambient Air Quality and also aim at coordinated attempts for conservation of water and make the resources of energy sustainable.

Why was it introduced?

Various studies have suggested that the coal-based power sector has been one of the most critical sectors of the Indian economy. As a result of various studies, including one by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the coal-based power sector was found to be one of the most resource wasteful and polluting sectors in the world. It was also found that our pollution norms were significantly weaker than other major economies, including China, where particulate matter (PM) was five times lesser than that of India.

The study also suggested that almost two-thirds of the plants in India either failed to comply or were unwilling to comply with even the most lenient regulations. As of 2014-15, the power plants used around three-fourths of the coal used in the entire country. India’s coal is of poor quality with almost 40 per cent ash. This means that the use of such coal leads to greater air pollution and is a significant contributor to total pollutants such as PM, NOX and So2 in the country.

Various studies also reported that domestic power plants were inefficient in using fresh water. Their average fresh water consumptions were twice that of the consumption of plants in countries like United States and China. It was estimated, therefore, that is the pattern remain unchanged, the pollution was expected to worsen on multiple levels.

In a Panel Discussion organised by the Centre for Policy Research, it was significantly pointed out that the emissions from Coal Based Power Plants in India contribute to significant air pollution including sulphates, nitrates, mercury and secondary particulate matter, largely formed by SOX emissions. Coal, fly ash and secondary particles from thermal plants and industries in Delhi contribute up to 35 percent of PM2.5 in during Winters and up to 41 percent during Summers.

Since Delhi is in the Indo-Gangetic Belt, the effect of these emissions spreads to areas across Northern Capital Region (NCR), within a radius of 300 kilometres by the north-westerly winds. Research shows that ever since there has been an increase in the particulate matter around Delhi, it has been linked with the presence and growth of coal-based power plants in the region. In addition to this, more than half of the present operational plants are in five states- Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Therefore, the central government introduced the revised guidelines in 2015 and these were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change in December 2015. The new standards emphasise on reducing the emissions of these four pollutants but also on bringing an ambient air quality in and around the thermal power plants. The guidelines make reference to the use of technology which should be employed for the control of proposed limit of Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide and would also help in controlling mercury emissions as a co-benefit. Since these guidelines have at their core, the aim of reducing the use of water in thermal power plants, this will also lead to water conservation as thermal power plant is a water-intensive industry. This is aimed at further reducing the usage of energy for the drawl of water.

Salient features of the guidelines

The Guidelines have several significant features:

  • Categorisation of thermal power plants into three categories

According to these guidelines, Thermal power plants are categorised into 3 categories, namely: Those Plants that are installed before 31st December, 2003, those Plants that are installed between 2004 and 31st December, 2016, and those Plants that are installed after 31st December, 2016, i.e. in and after 2017.

  • The new guidelines make addition to the existing guidelines

While the previsions and/or existing guidelines before 2015 governed on the PM emissions, the new guidelines aim at reduction of emissions for all major pollutants – PM, SO2, NOx and mercury emissions (Hg).

  • Specific regulations for plants installed in and after 2017

Under these regulations, plants installed in and after 2017 are required to meet Particulate Matter emission standards of 30 mg/Nm3, i.e. an 80 per cent reduction over the norms that existed prior to the 2015 norms. These new plants installed in and after 2017 are also required to install pollution-control equipment such as Flue Gas Desulphurization and low NOx burners to meet the standards, while the older plants (i.e. ones established priori to 2017) are required  to meet considerably looser standards, based on their age, due to both economic considerations and technical challenges involved.

  • Regulations in terms of water usage

The guidelines aim to remarkably reduce the withdrawal of freshwater by thermal power plants. This is intended to decrease the cumulative freshwater withdrawal by 80 per cent from around 22 BCM in 2011-12 to around 4.5 BCM in 2016-17. The norms will require all freshwater-based once-through-cooling (OTC) system plants to install water-efficient cooling towers that consume up to four cubic metre per watt hour (m3/MWh). Furthermore, existing cooling tower-based plants are required to restrict water consumption to 3.5 m3/MWh and plants that set up after January 2017 are required to achieve 2.5 m3/MWh as per the guidelines of 2015.

  • Regulations in respect of fly ash

Since the utilisation of fly ash from power plants has been far below the 100 per cent target that was supposed to be achieved by 2014, the government introduced draft amendments in March 2015 to push fly ash use. The proposed notification mandated the construction activities, i.e. buildings, roads and flyovers, reclamation and embankments, within 500 km of power plants to use only fly ash. The power plants were also required to provide fly ash for free to construction agencies and to transport it at their own cost up to 100 km for private users and up to 500 km for government projects.

  • Compulsory upgradation of supercritical technology

In addition to the features mentioned above, as per the action plan on which these guidelines are based, the Ministry of Power announced its plans to mandate supercritical technology for Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPS) as well power projects during the 13th Five Year Plan period, however, almost 40 GW of the 87 GW capacity projects under construction are subcritical. Subsequently, the power ministry also announced plans to shut down around 36 GW of old capacity that is inefficient.

Critical analysis

  • Power deficiency and idle power plants

Electricity is central to India’s developmental efforts. However, it is a fact that almost one-fourth of our population lives without access to electricity. Our per capita consumption of electricity is also considerably low, at almost a third of the world average with millions getting power a few hours a day. Surprisingly, the plant load factor (PLF) for power plants has steadily declined over the last two years and was only 63.60 per cent in September 2015. PLF is the ratio between the actual energy generated by the plant to the maximum possible energy that can be generated with the plant working at its rated power capacity for a given duration.

The reason behind the low Plant Load Factor (PLF) could to be the increase in total capacity as compared to the growth in demand. Coal shortages and grid problems are also responsible. But a more fundamental problem is the dysfunctional nature of distribution companies (DISCOMS)—inefficiently run with huge losses, they don’t have the money to buy power and supply it to people. Meanwhile, huge generating capacity lies idle.

This further aggravates the issue of pollution. DISCOMS prefer buying from the older, more polluting power plants because their electricity is cheaper than that generated by the new plants. This happens because the old plants are fully depreciated and, as a result, their input cost is lower. However, in the process, these old industries which supply cheaper electricity continue to produce more which leads to deterioration of the air quality even further, despite there being regulations in place.

  • Lack of emphasis on the functioning of old plants

While the introduction of standards for new plants has been beneficial, the lack of updated guidelines for existing old power plants has led to unrestrained pollution by the old plants, which contribute to the bulk of the environmental impacts. Without stricter regulations with regards to old plants, there will be little incentive to invest in improved technologies because the industries would tend to rely on the activities of older plants because they are cheaper and do not require spending huge amounts of money on the installation of environment-friendly technologies. Therefore, it is suggested that the guidelines be introduced in terms of imposition of stricter regulations for existing plants as well as in order to have a comprehensive implementation of the policy.

  • Failure to impose ambitious timelines

It is worth noting that the power sector has in the past failed to impose its targets in the ambitious timelines. In the last several plan periods, coal-based power capacity expansion was well below the targets.

The new guidelines required installation of cooling towers at numerous plants; SO2 control would require installing flue-gas desulfurization(s) within two years of the issuance of the guidelines, i.e. by December, 2017. Regulators were required to establish clear milestones and ensure close supervision to ensure implementation of these rules. This, given the short deadlines and the huge expenditure on technologies and capital assets that these guidelines maintain has been a problem in the Indian Context and has not been implemented despite attempts by the government in this regard. The primary cause of such a failure is the impracticable deadlines that have been enforced upon the industries and power plants that come under the ambit of the said guidelines.

  • Non-compliance of these guidelines and its impacts

Based on a report by Greenpeace India, based on the data collected from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) via Right to Information (RTI), it is worth noting that India would have reduced 48% of SO2, 48% of NOx and 40% of PM emission respectively if the coal power plants had complied by the Thermal Power Plant emission standards of 2015. Therefore, it is suggested that in order to enhance the accountability and complian the progress for retrofitting the power plants should be made available to the public. The suggested measure would help in maintaining the transparency of actions taken by various authorities with respect to the new timeframe scheduled for the power plants.

Conclusion

The environmental guidelines notified by MoEFCC in December, 2015 are intended to reduce emission of SO2, CO2, particulate matter and mercury from thermal power stations, since thermal power plants are major contributors of these pollutants. Despite deferment of timelines for compliance of the new norms from December, 2017 to (a) December 2022 for all thermal power stations and (b) December, 2019 for the power stations located in NCR, rate at which implementation of emission control systems in the power stations has taken place, is far from satisfactory.

However, since the central government issued the Thermal Power Plants Emission Guidelines in 2015, a number of positive developments have also taken place. These include the following:

First, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) Tariff Regulations, 2019 has issued guidelines specifying the modalities for submission of additional capital expenditure on account of revised emission standards, factors to be considered by the Commission for approval of the same and the admitted expenditure on this account forming the basis of tariff determination.

Second, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has also allowed the cost claimed by the petitioner in the event of the same having been discovered through competitive bidding.

Third, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission regulations also provide for consideration of additional capitalisation and additional operation and maintenance expenses on account of implementation of revised emission standards in existing or new generating stations in their tariff.

Lastly, Central Pollution Control Board has been strictly monitoring the air pollution status of 102 most polluted cities in India. In this regard, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given power to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to impose penalties on industries not complying with the norms. CPCB has already issued notice, to all the thermal power stations in NCR.

It is therefore submitted that Plants that do implement the pollution-control technology need to be monitored to ensure that standards are being met. Although, the installation of pollution-control technologies is key in ensuring health benefits due to better air quality, there is a need for the Government to address the financial burden of pollution-control technologies (PCTs) on end-consumers.

The Government can provide subsidies and incentives to Thermal Power Plants so that they are encouraged to follow these guidelines and the objectives of these guidelines can be more successfully met. In addition to this, there is need for the government to introduce measures to make the role of different stakeholders more transparent and accountable measures in order to implement these guidelines.

Author: Priyanshu Grover from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Gargi college incident (Delhi University)

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

On 6th February during a festival in Gargi College in Delhi, a large group of drunken men entered into the college premises with a motive of molesting and harassing the women student and did the same. It was noted by the crowd that the outsiders who entered into the college were participating in a CAA rally nearby when they entered the college and groped the student, locked them in washrooms and misbehaved with them.

Over eleven (11) police teams were involved in looking at technical details and they also visited several places in Delhi NCR to identify the suspects and investigate the case. Several other people were questioned by the police and multiple suspects were identified. The footage of 33 CCTVs installed on the college premises were examined by the police in which footage of 3 CCTVs, it was found that a large group of youth pushed a catering van to damage a gate and after damaging the gate, they all rushed in by climbing over the barricades and started molesting women.

Atul Thakur, DCP (South), said that “the arrested persons are from various colleges of Delhi University and other private universities in NCR. The accused are in the age group of 18 to 25 years. Ten (10) people have been arrested and the investigation is still on and more people will be arrested. We identified the arrested persons with the help of CCTV footage.”

The incident came into light when some students of Delhi University’s Gargi College narrated their unpleasant experiences during a college fest on February 6 to social media and stated that the security personnel did nothing to control the incident.

The college students boycotted the classes, while over 100 students held a protest on February 10 outside the Gargi College, demanding strict action against the intruders and resignation of Principal Promila Kumar. The students had also demanded a fact-finding committee to look into the matter, and its interim report has come out in support of the students’ allegations, confirming that several students faced various levels of harassment, with complaints ranging from flashing, groping, throwing eggs, inappropriate comments, being chased, belongings being stolen etc.

Delhi Police registered a case on February 10, 4 days after the incident, when they received a complaint from college authorities. This case is registered at the Hauz Khas police station under Indian Penal Code, 1860 u/s 452 (House-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). Moreover, the SC has refused to entertain a plea and asked for the case to first be taken to the Delhi High Court.

Legal provisions involved

There are various legislations which deal with crimes like molestation and harassing women and various acts have been made punishable, out of which there are many relating especially to women such as Disrobing a woman, Voyeurism, Stalking, Acid Attack, Sexual Harassment, Cruelty by husband or his relatives, Dowry Death and many others.  Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with the provisions for all of these.

Under Indian Penal Code, 1860, (IPC) Section 452 deals with the provision for the persons who commits house trespass having preparation for causing hurt to another person or wrongfully restraining another person or to put any person in fear of hurt or assault or wrongful restraint. He shall be punished with imprisonment for the term decided by court, which can be extended to seven (7) years and shall also be liable to pay fine. In the present case, we can relate the incidents to this provision of law as there was trespass into the college and all the women were put into the position of fear and were wrongfully restrained in the washroom. This offence is cognizable, which means that the police can arrest those persons without a warrant and can start an investigation with or without the permission of court. In addition to this, the offence is also non-bailable.

Another legal provision in IPC is one that deals with assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty under Section 354. It talks about the person who assaults or uses criminal force towards any woman with the intention to outrage the modesty of the woman. He shall be punished with the term not less than one year but which can be extended to five years as the case may be. It is also a cognizable and non-bailable offence. In this Section, assault is a special ingredient.

In the resent case too, the incident hampered the modesty of the women and criminal force was used as well. In the case of State v. Hetram 1982 (2) Crimes 161,  a girl, who was about 15 years, was coming from her mother’s place when the accused suddenly came between the road and dragged her towards the other side of the road and took her to a secluded spot. It was held that this act was sufficient to book the accused under S. 354.

In the case of State of Punjab v. Major Singh AIR 1967 SC 63, the accused had caused injuries to the vagina of a seven and a half month old. The court held that the essence of women’s modesty is her sex. Young-old, Intelligent- dumb, awake- sleeping, women possess a modesty capable of being outraged.

Further, under S.509 of IPC, it is stated that any person who intends to insult the modesty of the woman by words or gestures or the act or makes any disrespectful sound or exhibits any object which intrudes the privacy of the woman shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may be extended to three years and also with the fine depending upon the facts of the case. In the Gargi case, similar behaviour can be seen as the intruders outraged the modesty and insulted woman by locking them in the washroom, passing derogatory comments and inappropriately touching them. It is a cognizable and bailable offence.

In Bankey v. State of U.P. AIR 1961 All.131, wherein the accused entered the apartment of a lady, caught hold of her and removed her garments, it was held by the court that he had intruded upon the privacy of the woman. This section does not require element of criminal force or assault which is essential element of offence under S. 354.

For all these offences, a statutory body named The National Commission for Women (NCW) was formed in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women’s Act. Its mandate is to advice the government on all policy matters concerning all the women, to review various legislation created by legislators and to intervene or initiate proceedings in the Supreme Court on matters concerning woman.

Conclusion

Notwithstanding the number of laws to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of the woman, the rate of crimes against women is mushrooming day by day. The incident at Gargi College further highlights the despondent situation of women, as many students of all-girls college were molested and sexually assaulted in their own fest, in the heart of India’s capital.

It is well said by the people that it takes two to tango. It implies that only law is not responsible to control and regulate the increase of the crimes against the women in our society. The inculcation of social ethics, morals and values respect and honor in every human being towards women is the need of the hour. There is exigency of more strict and fast action to be taken against the harassers in the present case too, with cooperation of the college authorities and the police.

Author: Karan Kashyap from Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune.

Editor: Ismat Hena from Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Shooting incidents in JMI: Legal angle

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

“As Right to Life & Personal Liberty, does not include Right to Die, similarly Right to form Association and Criticise the Govt, doesn’t specifically outright the use of arms and ammunition to force the Government to undo anything, which is the will of the people.”

Recent happenings in the heart of the capital of the Republic of India is something which may or may not be termed as stupefying the working of the Indian Constitution, but surely have shocked the conscience of every prudent citizen of this beautiful country.

Our Constitution gives fair privilege to protest against any decision of the Government which they have chosen by exercising their Right to Vote and under a Social Contract have conferred handful of rights with duties to serve the people, and on other hand people also reserve the Right to support any action of Government, on the basic premise that they are no different from ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ who are real sovereign of this Nation who have all right to take necessary action for undoing the wrongs committed by the Govt., stressing on the popular referendum.

But this also comes with certain restriction and duty and a peaceful procedure is what everyone preaches to be adhered by bringing fruitful changes in the policy which is to be enforced for the welfare of the entire country.   

The need to highlight the Right to Protest with the underlying limitations to it arose when the nation was struck with the feeling of terror during the Anti-CAA protests at Jamia Milia Islamia, followed by the police’s strike in the campus which hurled the atmosphere of violent protest thereby noting the gun shooting instances near and in the campus by the Indian Youth, This has categorically raised serious issues as to the Govt’s approach coupled with the ineffective handling of Law & Order Situation by the Police Authorities and reason behind such shooting incidents in one of the Premier Academic Institute of India.

Brief about Citizenship Amendment Act and the contentions to oppose it

After getting the Presidential Assent on December 12, 2019, the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) was enacted into the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) which provided for the fast track process of giving citizenship rights to the religious minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who were living in India without valid documents who were ‘forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution’ in their native state before the cut off date of 31, December 2014.

The contentions and opposition which traced the path of the 2-month long protest against CAA, which in no case is showing signs to resolve are as follows:

“The critics of the Act quote that it is fundamentally discriminatory in the nature of rejecting one religion and preferring others, which is stated to dissolve & harm the secular nature of the Indian Constitution and specifically violates Article 14 of the same.”

This has caused grave concerns so as to protect the rights of our Muslims brothers and sisters of our Country, for which nationwide protest is going on. However, a major point of concern which has raised under the garb of these protests is the way people are getting around in the protests while damaging the Public & Private Property, protesting with arms & ammunition and even going to the limit of active use of guns and deadly weapon, thereby not only creating an atmosphere of fear or threat, but categorically threatening to wither away the unity & integrity of our homeland.

Brief of continuous incidents of gun shooting in and around Jamia Milia Islamia

Incident No. 1: January 30, 2020- “when a man – who claims to be minor – took out his gun at a student march from Jamia Milia University to Rajghat against CAA on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and started shouting threats. Despite a heavy police presence, the visuals from the incident showed him walking alone on an empty road barricaded by police and finally taking a shot at the protesters.

After shooting, he turned around and shouting at the protesters in Hindi, quoted “Jai Shri Ram, Yeh Lo Azaadi”. His bullet injured a first-year student of Jamia’s mass communication department. Moreover, his social media accounts show that he went live before firing on the crowd, so as to take revenge for the Chandan’s Death in a communal clash in Uttar Pradesh, clearly showing that the protest might have taken a shape to counter personal anguish, which is not yet proved.

Incident 2– February 1, 2020- Where a man resorted to aerial firing while shouting “Hindu Rashtra Zindabad” and “Iss desh mein kisi ki nahin chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi” near the Jasola Red Light at around 04:53 PM whereby no one was injured, has caused serious question as to effectiveness of Police Authorities who were in large number present near Shaheen Bagh where anti-CAA protests were being held.

Incident 3– February 2, 2020- Where unidentified gunmen riding a scooter opened fire outside Gate number 5 of Jamia Millia University where students and members of the civil society have been holding protests against the Citizenship Act (CAA) for several weeks. The Delhi Police after the incident was reported doesn’t found any bullet shell nor any evidence as to the happening of firing, thereby registering the complaint at the premise of the eye-witnesses of the Incident.

Legal consequences and laws violated by the attackers

The ruthless efforts of the attackers to stir the conscience of the protesters as well as to shake the integrity of our Nation, the incident of firing on the crowd have violated and invoked the following laws against the attacker:

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1860
    1. Section 307- Attempt to Murder
    1. Section 153A- Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony
    1. Section-153AA- Punishment for knowingly carrying arms in any procession or organising, or holding or taking part in any mass drill or mass training with arms
    1. Section-153B- Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration.
  2. Arms Act, 1959
    1. Section 25- Punishment for certain offences.
    1. Section 27- Punishment for possessing arms, etc, with intent to use them for an unlawful purpose
    1. Section 29- Punishment for knowingly purchasing arms, etc., from unlicensed person or for delivering arms, etc., to person not entitled to possess the same.
  3. Invocation of the Provisions of National Security Act, 1980.

Thus, the attackers shall be liable for the commission of the offences committed under the offences hereinabove mentioned.

Impact of the firing incidents: Making law & order situation vulnerable to repeated wrongdoings

Such incidents will surely have an impact not only on the minds of the protesters who are being directly inflicted to threat, fear and injuries, but also to every citizen of India who has trusted the Administration & Policing System, now being questioning the ineffective resolution of such incidents. 3 consecutive incidents have raised serious contentions in the mind of people, that is this the only way to get justice and causation of such firings have also boosted the morale of the deviants to adopt the same, as a legitimate way to bring their choices and needs to be fulfilled.

Some state that such incidents are because of political aggravation, whereas some others denote it as a means to realise the personal enmity. But surely such incidents have a great impact on the mental well-being of the Country, where there is sense of insecurity developed in the minds of people, and thus affecting the overall development and image, as well as repute of the country at the Global Stage.

Conclusion

Theway forward is to take harsh and immediate actions against the perpetrators, because the path they have chosen is surely not acceptable, though their motive is in line with the welfare of the society or the Country as a whole. In this respect, a specialised force should be deployed in the area of protests, who would keep a keen eye on such incidents and an order of immediate action taken thereby to restrict such firing be given to such force, so that Law & Order Situation is maintained and citizen in its entirety feels safe & secure, for which the Govt. as well as the people should join hands.  

Author: Harshit Sharma from Amity Law School, Amity University Madhya Pradesh (AUMP), Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.

Editor: Anna Jose Kallivayalil from NLU, Delhi.