New Delhi, Jul 9 (PTI) Delhi government on Friday withdrew from the Supreme Court its petition seeking directions to 10 coal-fired thermal power plants in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, which allegedly contributes to air pollution in the national capital, to immediately cease operations till Flue Gas Desulphurization technology is installed to reduce harmful emission. “We find it very amusing that a state has come in with a PIL (public interest litigation) against the Union of India,” a bench of Justices Navin Sinha and R Subhash Reddy observed while hearing the plea.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Delhi government, said that sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are the “killer gases” and the matter relates to health of the citizens who are affected by pollution.
“Your case is that they (Centre) had made some statement before this court and now they are deviating,” the bench said, adding, “If the Centre has done something contrary to what they had stated before this court, then you can go and inform the court about it in that case”.
“We have many questions to ask,” the top court said, adding, “You have filed a writ petition. We are considering whether we should entertain this writ petition or not.” Gonsalves, who argued that the bench can issue notice on this petition and tag it with the pending case, later said he would withdraw the plea and intervene in the pollution matter.
During the hearing, Gonsalves told the bench that deadline for complying with emission norms should be closer as the problem of pollution is getting worse.
The plea, filed through advocate Satya Mitra, claimed that these 10 power plants contribute to about 5 per cent in air pollution of Delhi and despite many interventions by the apex court and the National Green Tribunal, there has hardly been any progress in controlling this.
The petition sought quashing of October 16, 2020 directions issued by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to nine thermal power plants extending the deadline for installation of FGD. The plea also sought setting aside of March 31 this year notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) amending/extending the timelines for complying with emission norms by coal-based power plants.
It said in 2016, IIT Kanpur had published a ‘Comprehensive Study on Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases in Delhi’ pointing out that 13 power plants in the radius of 300 km of Delhi, which also includes these 10 coal fired thermal power plants, are expected to contribute significantly to air pollution in the city.
The plea also sought a direction to power plant operators and regulatory authorities, like CPCB and State Pollution Control Boards, to provide online continuous emission monitoring data in public domain.
It said owing to the increased environmental concerns, Delhi Government had directed shutting down of IP power plant in 2009, Rajghat power plant in 2015 and Badarpur power plant in 2018 in its jurisdiction.
“Time and again the Delhi Government had asked the concerned authorities to close down the units which have failed to comply with the emission norms and have resultantly caused excessive pollution in the capital region,” it said.
“Delhi is undergoing an unprecedented health emergency due to rising levels of air pollution, the major contributors of which are the 10 coal fired power plants which operate within the 300 km radius of the capital region,” it said, adding, “A large number of deaths are attributed to the emissions from thermal power plants.” PTI ABA MNL SJK SA