Friday, November 17, 2017

Air pollution: NTPC to mix crop residue with coal to curb stubble burning

IF YOU are finding it tough to breathe fresh air in Delhi and other parts of NCR, here is a piece of good news for you. The power ministry has directed power utility NTPC Ltd to mix crop residue up to 10 per cent with coal as fuel for all of its thermal power plants to reduce stubble burning in a bid to tackle air pollution. NTPC will soon float a tender to buy farm stubble at Rs 5,500 per tonne for power plants, a move that will check farmers from burning it -- a key source of pollution in the national capital region (NCR).
“We are talking to generators of NTPC. We examined that 10 per cent of straw pellets, stubble or briquettes can be mixed with coal. NTPC is...
going to come out with a tender with the average price being Rs 5,500 per tonne. We are writing to states and to enforce this for all thermal plants. We are creating a market for straw and stubble,” power minister R K Singh said.
This step would reduce crop residue burning in agriculture dominated States like Punjab and Haryana and hence reduce air pollution. The infrastructure for sourcing the crop residue from farmers is being set up, the ministry said.
“The matter is under discussion with the ministry of environment. The scheme would reduce stubble burning in states. States have said that asking farmers to spend the money to collect the hay and stubble is not possible. Therefore, we have to create a market where farmers could sell it,” Singh said.
He also said state-owned Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) will provide loan to companies interested in manufacturing machines and equipment to make pellets and straws.
In the meantime, the air quality in Delhi-NCR dropped to ‘poor’ category from ‘very poor’ on Thursday morning – for the first time in two weeks. The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) directed the ban on entry of trucks and construction works in Delhi be withdrawn. The four-time hike in parking fees was also lifted. EPCA said they lifted the hike in parking fees due to lack of public transport and laxity in acting against illegal parking. At Lodhi Road, prominent pollutants PM10 and PM2.5 dipped to 288 and 289, even though smog continued to hamper train services. ANI reported that 26 trains were delayed, seven rescheduled and six cancelled.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued a string of orders to tackle air pollution in the state. He banned garbage burning in urban areas and directed municipal corporations across the state to implement it effectively. He also asked them to sprinkle water on roads and implement a ban on crop burning.
Earlier, NTPC told NGT that the PSU issued tenders for agricultural residue pellets, but found few takers. NGT asks state governments to tie up with NTPC so farmers can give crop residue to government, which in turn can be provided to the plant.
National Green Tribunal has also directed all schools and colleges in Delhi to install rainwater harvesting systems within two months. Violators will be fined Rs 5 lakh, NGT warned.
A thick cover of smog has rendered normal life out of gear in the past couple of weeks forcing many people to stay indoors and also to wear mask while venturing outside. 

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