India’s Adani, NTPC sought extension of deadlines to curb coal plant emissions

Top Indian coal-fired power generators Adani Power and NTPC Ltd have sought two-to-three-year extensions of deadlines to install emissions-cutting equipment at some plants, according to documents reviewed by Reuters, even as the country battles rampant pollution.

The requests mean the two biggest power producers in India are pressuring the government to delay emissions targets for a second time, citing costs and technical difficulties, even as the country chokes on some of the worst smog on the planet.

They could set battle lines between the power industry and the environment ministry ahead of a key Supreme Court case on power plant emissions due in February.

India already extended its original December 2017 deadline for utilities to meet tighter new emissions standards, after extensive lobbying by the coal-fired power industry. The country now has a has a phased timetable – from end-2019 to end-2022 – and many coal-fired plants around New Delhi are operating despite missing deadlines, and want a further extension.

Adani Power wants to extend the timeline for stricter emissions rules at two units in a central Indian plant by about three years to March 2023, citing a change of ownership, the documents show. Adani bought the assets from the GMR group last year.

Thermal power companies like Adani, which produce three-quarters of the country’s electricity, account for some 80% of India’s industrial emissions of gases linked to lung diseases, acid rain and smog. But more than half of the coal-fired power plants ordered to retrofit equipment to cut emissions are set to miss deadlines.

State-run NTPC Ltd, India’s largest electricity generator, has sought to extend the deadline by up to two years at its Bongaigaon eastern Indian plant, according to the documents reviewed by Reuters.

India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA), which advises the federal power ministry, recommended that NTPC’s request be passed on the environment ministry. The CEA has also asked the power ministry to request the environment ministry to extend timelines for captive power plants. The Ministry of Power already wants to extend deadlines for some economically stressed power plants.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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