CHENNAI: As expected, the air pollution in Chennai aggravated on the day of Bhogi festival as hundreds were seen lighting bonfires contributing to increase in carbon emissions. Few morning flights have been delayed as the thick blanket to smog has engulfed the city reducing the visibility.
At 11 am, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was 170 enough to cause breathing discomfort to the people with lungs, asthma and heart diseases. This is the second consequent day where air pollution has spiked under unfavourable weather conditions.
With 91 per cent humidity, minimum temperature dropping 2.5 degrees below normal on Monday night, absence of wind and the pollution from Bhogi bonfires along with other usual sources, smog hit the city on Tuesday morning. Even by noon, when the sun was out, smog refused to blow away and kept the pollution levels high.
Experts said that the major sources of pollution are the thermal power plants in North Chennai. Almost all coal-fired power plant operators in India have missed the deadline for compliance to the 2015 NOx and SOx limits. The latest news on this is that Power Ministry has proposed extending the deadline by another two years, to enter into compliance by end of 2021.
In parallel to the power minister’s proposal asking more time for implementation of SOx norms, efforts are being made to dilute emission norms for NOx. New papers from NTPC's pilot test reveal that the technology that is used across the world to reduce NOx emission apparently failed to deliver during NTPC test.
The same test also reveals that the basic changes needed to reduce NOx emission has also not been implemented. To add to the dichotomy, a Reuters report has revealed on how the Centre is considering doing away with coal cess in order to reduce cost of coal with an assumption that the savings would trickle down to operators and DISCOM, allowing them to comply with the new emission standards.