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Ban on Coal in Delhi NCR from Jan 2023


Ban on Coal in Delhi UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Coal ban in Delhi: Context

  • Recently, Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) ordered that use of coal as a fuel will be banned across the National Capital Region (NCR) with effect from January 1, 2023.


Coal ban in NCR: Key points

  • For regions where infrastructure for and supply of piped natural gas (PNG) is already available, the ban on the use of coal will come into force from October 1, 2022
  • However, the use of low-sulphur coal in thermal power plants has been exempted from the ban.
  • In February 2022, CAQM had noted that a majority of industries in the NCR were still not operating on PNG or “cleaner fuels”, despite availability of natural gas infrastructure and supply.
  • Such industries in the NCR were then directed to completely switch over to PNG or biomass fuels by September 30 this year, or face closure.
  • On December 7 last year, the CAQM had ordered the closure of those industries which had failed to switch to use of PNG despite supply being available, till December 12.
  • With air quality having deteriorated last winter, the commission had also restricted the timing of operation of industries not running on PNG to eight hours a day for five days a week.


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Coal ban in Delhi NCR: Why needed?

  • Delhi is among the world’s most polluted capital cities.
  • The capital and its adjoining cities-Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad have mostly observed a daily AQI at around the 300-400 level mark, which as per the pollution index is considered to be the most toxic air.
  • The environmental experts have listed various reasons behind the polluted air in Delhi-NCR of which burning of coal is one of them.
  • Around 1.7 million tonnes of coal is used annually in industries in the NCR.
  • The commission has issued multiple directions to the state governments in the NCR asking industries to switch to PNG.


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Steps taken to reduce pollution in Delhi

  • Shutting plants: In November 2021, the Delhi government had shut five coal-fired plants in order to combat air pollution.
  • Banned trucks: CAQM had also banned trucks carrying non-essential goods and stopped construction in Delhi and its neighbouring cities.
  • Smog guns: At all major construction sites, anti-smog guns have been installed for controlling pollution.
  • Red Light on, Gaadi off campaign: It is a campaign where volunteers would be holding placards at the traffic lights to request the commuters to switch off their car engines when the signal is red.
  • PUSA decomposer: PUSA’s Indian Agricultural Research Institute have developed a cost-effective, efficient and simple way of dealing with the issue of straw and stubble burning. A solution has been created for spraying in fields for decomposing crop residue.
  • Banning of diesel generators: Delhi, Haryana and UP governments have been directed by the Environment Pollution Authority to ban diesel generators in the NCR region.


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