The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) not to grant clearance to any new thermal power plant till they comply with the standards set by it, after a plea alleged that many of them were flouting norms and causing pollution.
A bench headed by acting Chairperson Justice U D Salvi said the failure of the thermal power plants to adopt techniques to reduce emissions would affect the environmental scenario.
"We direct Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities not to grant any environmental clearance to any new thermal power plant unless they show that every mechanism/ technique to achieve the standards set out in the notification dated December 7, 2015 is in place/adopted," the bench said.
Advocate Divya Prakash Pandey, appearing for the MoEF , told the bench that the ministry was aware of the situation and a plea seeking extension of time for implementing the MoEF's notification was pending in the Supreme Court.
The Environment Ministry in December 2015 had issued a notification revising the standards for coal-based thermal power plants across the country, which aimed to reduce emissions like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, besides water consumption.
These power plants were given a deadline of December 2017 to install appropriate mechanisms and technologies to cut emissions.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by activist Sunil Dahiya seeking a direction to the environment ministry and the environmental impact assessment authorities of all states to ensure that all new approvals comply with the standards provided in the December 7, 2015 notification.
According to the plea, the ministry had promulgated the notification to bring about a reduction in air pollution and water consumption by thermal power plants across the country.
The petitioner had also said that according to the notification, coal thermal power plants installed after January 1 this year should adhere to stricter air pollution norms and the ones installed before December 31, 2016 were given time till December 7, 2017 for compliance.
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