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Green tribunal refrains from asking Punjab to run Bathinda power plant with biomass fuel

NGT disposes of petition by GNDTP retired deputy chief engineer, goes by report submitted by Punjab Pollution Control Board

Updated: Aug 12, 2020, 17:58 IST

By Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times/Bathinda

(HT File Photo)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has turned down a petition seeking its intervention in asking the Punjab government to consider converting the defunct Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDPT) in Bathinda into a biomass-fuelled facility.

Disposing of the petition filed by GNDTP retired deputy chief engineer Darshan Singh, the principal bench headed by chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the NGT said: “The Punjab government may act in accordance with the law and if the power plant is to be converted from coal-fired to paddy straw fuelled, all norms should be complied with.”

Justice SP Wangdi and an expert, Dr Nagin Nanda, were on the panel that decided the matter through a virtual hearing. The order was published on the NGT’s website on Tuesday.

The tribunal’s decision was based on a report submitted by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).



WILL SOLVE STUBBLE PROBLEM: PETITIONER

In a petition on December 16, 2019, Darshan Singh claimed to have prepared a report for the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) on the possibility of converting Unit-IV of the thermal plant into a paddy straw fuelled unit.

The petitioner said switching from coal to crop waste-based fuel will help in providing a solution for the safe disposal of stubble of major kharif crops of Punjab’s Malwa belt.

The petitioner contended that PSPCL’s board of directors had put the proposal of converting the thermal power plant into a biomass facility before the Punjab government in November 2018. But the state government did not act on the proposal.

He said that the cost of upgrading the defunct plant into a stubble-based facility will be cheaper than building a new biomass unit. Thus, the cost of power generation will be lower in the biomass plant.

“Besides bringing down air pollution during winter in Punjab and Delhi, conversion from conventional to paddy stubble-based fuel will add to the income of rice growers in the state,” he said.

PROPOSAL AT PRELIMINARY STAGE: PPCB

In its report to the NGT after analysing Darshan Singh’s representation, the PPCB said that the proposal to convert GNDTP into a stubble-fired power plant was only at the preliminary stage of consideration by the state government.

The PPCB said that it’s up to the PSPCL to comment on the technical and economic viability. However, the PPCB said that if the government finds the proposal viable, it will help in using the paddy residue.

“While considering the implementation of the proposal to upgrade GNDTP, the state authorities have to set up an exhaustive mechanism and facilities for time-bound collection, storage and transportation of stubble generated during paddy harvesting to ensure the availability of fuel for the power plant throughout the year,” the report said.

The power plant was decommissioned two years ago and the state government has already started the process to dismantle it. The Punjab government is keen to develop a pharmaceutical park on the land of the defunct power plant.

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