The Indian government has introduced a new set of draft rules aimed at addressing the issue of crop residue burning and promoting environmental sustainability. These rules are known as the Environment (Utilisation of Crop Residue by Thermal Power Plants) Rules, 2023.
The rules mandate the use of crop residue by thermal power plants in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas. According to the rules, all coal-based thermal power plants operated by power generation utilities will be required to use a minimum of 5% percent blend of pellets or briquettes made from crop residue in conjunction with coal. This measure aims to reduce the practice of burning crop residue, which contributes significantly to air pollution and poses health hazards.
The regulations also include provisions for environmental compensation in cases where thermal power plants fail to utilize crop residue as prescribed. The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, established under the Commission for Air Quality Management of National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act, 2021, or its authorized officers, will be responsible for imposing and collecting environmental compensation from non-compliant thermal power plants on an annual basis.
In certain cases, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission or the State Regulatory Commissions, as applicable, will determine the tariff under the Electricity Act, 2003, considering the provisions of these rules.
Recognizing that there may be circumstances beyond the control of thermal power plants that hinder their compliance with the rules, the Commission for Air Quality Management is empowered to grant relaxations on a case-by-case basis. This decision will be made in consultation with the Central Electricity Authority and the Central Pollution Control Board to address any difficulties faced by thermal power plants.