Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Air Pollution
- A new report by Greenpeace shows that India is the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the world, contributing more than 15 per cent of global anthropogenic emissions.
- The analysis is based on hotspots detected by NASA Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) satellite data that captured more than 500 major source points of SO2 emissions across the globe including natural sources such as volcanoes.
- Norilsk smelter complex in Russia is the largest SO2 emission hotspot in the world, followed by Kriel in Mpumalanga province in South Africa and Zagroz in Iran.
- According to the analysis, air pollution is a huge public health concern, with 91 per cent of the world’s population living in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds guideline limits by the World Health Organization (WHO) and as a result, 4.2 million people die prematurely every year.
- The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels in power plants and other industrial facilities.
- In Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey, emissions are currently not increasing — however, there is not a lot of progress in tackling them either.
- Of the world’s major emitters, China and the United States has been able to reduce emissions
- They have achieved this feat by switching to clean energy sources; China, in particular, has achieved success by dramatically improving emission standards and enforcement for sulphur dioxide control.
SO2 Emissions in India
- The Primary reason for India’s high emission output is the expansion of coal-based electricity generation over the past decade.
- Five of the top 10 SO2 emission hotspots from coal/power generation industry across the world are in India.
- The major SO2 emission hotspots in India are Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, Neyveli and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Talcher and Jharsuguda in Odisha, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Kutch in Gujarat, Ramagundam in Telangana and Chandrapur and Koradi in Maharashtra.
- The vast majority of plants in India lack flue-gas desulfurization technology to reduce their air pollution, according to the analysis.
Preventive Measures by GoI
- In December 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had introduced for the first time SO2 emission limits for coal power plants with an initial deadline to retrofit technology to control SO2 emissions from power generation by December 2017.
- At the request of the Ministry of Power and power plant operators, this was later extended till December 2019 for power plants in Delhi-NCR and till 2022 for some other power plants across the country through a Supreme Court order.
[Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express, Down To Earth]