Air quality panel bans use of coal in Delhi-NCR from January 2023


To bring down greenhouse gas emissions in Delhi NCR, the Commission for Air Quality Management on Wednesday issued directions to State governments concerned to phase out usage of coal by December 31, 2022.

The move by the air quality panel to ban use of coal as a fuel in Delhi NCR from January 1, 2023, to drive the switching over to cleaner fuel such as natural gas and biomass will not only help save 1.7 million tonnes of coal annually, but also reduce pollutants including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxide (NOx), CO2 and CO. However, thermal power plants in NCR are allowed to use low-sulphur coal.

“As decided by the Commission, the NCR State governments and the government of NCT of Delhi have been accordingly advised for phasing out coal from NCR vide a communication dated June 3. The aforesaid restrictions/ ban on use of coal shall come in force w.e.f. October 1 (for regions where PNG infrastructure and supply is already available) and w.e.f. January 1, 2023 (for other regions where the PNG supply is still not available). In full effect, use of coal as fuel shall be banned across NCR w.e.f. January 1, 2023,” CAQM said in an order.

Emissions from heavily polluting fuels like coal for various industrial, domestic and miscellaneous purposes contribute significantly to the degradation of air quality in NCR and adjoining areas and accordingly a consistent need has been felt to switch over to lesser polluting and cleaner fuel, it added.

Promoting clean fuels

CAQM has been focusing on shifting industries to piped natural gas and other clean fuels.

Around 1.7 million tonnes (MT) of coal is consumed annually by various industries in the NCR, with about 1.4 MT alone being consumed in the six major industrial districts, the panel revealed.

In December 2021, the Supreme Court ordered the government to find a permanent solution to the air pollution menace occurring every year in Delhi and NCR, and suggestions were invited from the public and the experts in the field.

Accordingly, the CAQM formed an Expert Group to deliberate upon all such suggestions and proposals. The Expert Group has strongly recommended phasing out use of heavily polluting fossil fuels like coal and mandating cleaner fuels, to the extent possible.

“As the concerns of air pollution are uniform across NCR and from the standpoint of a common airshed approach for the entire NCR and adjoining areas, it was decided by the Commission to phase out use of coal as a fuel from entire NCR in industrial, domestic and miscellaneous applications (barring use of low sulphur coal only in TPPs), towards aiming for an overall improved air quality in the region,” the panel said.

Natural gas gets a boost

The move by CAQM to ban use of coal as a fuel will boost the prospects of natural gas in the NCR. Analysts expect the development to be positive for the city gas distribution companies. As per the Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell, the global per capita natural gas consumption is 496 cubic meters) compared to 43 cu m for India.

“At present, gas prices are volatile, but going ahead they will soften. Besides, industries would prefer PNG as compared to biomass, due to availability issues of the latter. Parallelly it will raise gas contribution in India’s energy mix from around 6.7 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030 as per the government’s mandate,” a senior official from a CGD entity said.

As of April, India’s natural gas consumption stood at 4,493 million standard cubic meter (mscm) on a provisional basis. Major consumers were fertiliser units (34 per cent), CGD (23 per cent), power (12 per cent), refinery (9 per cent) and petrochemicals (2 per cent).

Published on

June 08, 2022

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