Environment (Protection) Amendment Rule,2020 : Coal Ash Content - No More Criteria for Power Plant

                                                                                                                        - Rajesh Deoliya

Key Words: Coal, Washery, Power Plant, MoEFCC. EPA Rule-2020
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Download Free png Coal HD PNG Transparent Coal HD.PNG Images ...The Ministry of Environment,Forest and Climate Change,Government of India [MoEFCC] has notified Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules,2020 on 21st May,2020 [S.O.1561(E)]. The notification substitutes old ash and distance based utilization of coal by Thermal Power Plants [TPP].


The GSR 02(E) dated 02.01.2014 of MoEFCC, mandates that with effect from the date specified hereunder, the following coal based thermal power plants shall be supplied with, and shall use, raw or blended or beneficiated coal with ash content not exceeding thirty-four per cent, on quarterly average basis, namely

(a)  a stand-alone TPP (of any capacity), or a captive thermal power plant of installed capacity of 100 MW or above, located beyond 1000 kilometres from the pit-head or, in an urban area or an ecologically sensitive area or a critically polluted industrial area, irrespective of its distance from the pit-head, except a pit-head power plant, with immediate effect (i.e 2.01.2014)

(b)   a stand-alone thermal power plant (of any capacity), or a captive thermal power plant of installed capacity of 100 MW or above, located between 750 - 1000 kilometres from the pit-head, with effect from the 1" day of January, 2015;

(c)  a stand-alone thermal power plant (of any capacity), or a captive thermal power plant of installed capacity of 100 MW or above, located between 500-749 kilometres from the pit-head, with effect from the 5 th day of June, 2016:

These clauses were not applicable on TPPs using CFBC or AFBC or Pressurized FBC or Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle technologies or any other clean technologies as may be notified by the Central Government

Since raw coal has high ash content, blending will require procurement of low ash coal which is generally imported and costly, hence the beneficiated coal became popular. A beneficiated coal is a coal with higher calorific value but lower ash than the original ash content in the raw coal obtained through physical separation or washing process. The ash content is also important factor because during transportation of coal, ash is also transported which has no economic value on one hand and environment hazard on other hand. As a result coal washeries became helpful in reducing the ash content in the raw coal and increasing the gross calorific value for use in TPP.

Reason for Change:

Though the washing of coal is a good solution to reduce the ash content of coal but in practicality, solution itself became a problem. The rejects in the form of ash became an environmental hazard. The MoEFCC directed Ministry of Coal and Coal India Ltd (CIL) to come out with solutions so that the environmental clearance   to the washery projects could be granted accordingly. The CIL, based on the findings of high level committee in year 2018 found following means of washery rejects disposal :

i)   to use of coal in FBG power plants which consume low ash coal
ii)  to dump the washery ash in mine void and
iii) to sale the washery rejects to potential customers.

Except point number (i) above, none of the options were found viable in present circumstances because the washery reject contains effluents like Iron, Manganese and some trace elements which may contaminate ground water and soils due to leachates.  The washery reject coal has calorific value about 1800 Kcal/kg which can catch fire at the dumping site and required careful handling.

The S.O 1561(E) dated 21.05.2020 of MoEFCC observes a) use of low grade coal washery rejects, in the multiple small user industries, generates more pollution etc. b) Whereas, the NITI Aayog, after analysing the issue from the perspective of washeries, coal mining, transportation and consumption of coal at power plants has, inter alia, summed up that use of washery rejects in nearby industries generates more pollution; since washery rejects are distributed in number of smaller industries, the pollution control at numerous points is more difficult than controlling the  pollution at power plant end; Ash generated in the washing process pollutes water along with coal particles and cannot be gainfully utilised; Coal washing process involves increased water use, effluent generation; Disposal of washery rejects has negative environmental impact as it has to handle and dispose huge quantity of low grade coal washery rejects, liquid effluent streams, coal storage, handling coal dust, runoff and fugitive dust; Coal washing also adversely impacts topography, water drainage pattern and quality, water bodies, surrounding air quality at large scale; Washing process increases the cost of power generation with no commensurate environmental advantages etc. The outcome of NITI Ayog report has set the need of change for use of coal in TPP.

The Amendment:
The above observations lead to substitution of Rule 3 sub – rule (8) in EPA Rules,1986 through the notification S.O 1561(E)  dated 21.05.2020 which is as below:

(8) Use of coal by Thermal Power Plants, without stipulations as regards ash content or distance, shall be permitted subject to following conditions:
(1)   Setting Up Technology Solution for emission norms:
(i)   Compliance of specified emission norms for Particulate Matter, as per extant notifications and instructions of Central Pollution Control Board, issued from time to time.
(ii) In case of washeries, Middling and rejects to be utilized in FBC (Fluidised Bed Combustion) technology based thermal power plants. Washery to have linkage for middling and rejects in Fluidised Bed Combustion plants.

(2) Management of Ash Ponds:

(i)   The thermal powers plants shall comply with conditions, as notified in the Fly Ash notification issued from time to time, without being entitled to additional capacity of fly ash pond (for existing power generation capacity) on ground of switching from washed coal to unwashed coal.

(ii) Appropriate Technology solutions shall be applied to optimise water consumption for Ash management;

 (iii) The segregation of ash may be done at the Electro-Static Precipitator stage, if required, based on site specific conditions, to ensure maximum utilization of fly ash;

(iv) Subject to 2(i) above, the thermal power plants to dispose flyash in abandoned or working mines (to be facilitated by mine owner) with environmental safeguards.

(3) Transportation:

(i) Coal transportation may be undertaken by covered Railway wagon (railway wagons covered by tarpaulin or other means) and/or covered conveyer beyond the mine area. However, till such time enabling Rail transport/conveyor infrastructure is not available, road transportation may be undertaken in trucks, covered by tarpaulin or other means.
(ii) It shall be ensured by the thermal power plant that

a. Rail siding facility or conveyor facility is set up at or near the power plant, for transportation by rail or conveyor; and

b. If transportation by rail or conveyor facility is not available, ensure that the coal is transported out from the Delivery Point of the respective mine in covered trucks (by tarpaulin or other means), or any mechanized closed trucks by road.

(4) This shall also be deemed to be additional conditions of the relevant Environmental Clearances for respective projects for financial year 2020-21 and onward. The existing Environmental Clearances shall stand modified so as to make the above conditions operative for relevant sectors. The Consent to Operate shall be issued by respective State Pollution Control Boards accordingly.

Effect of Change:

The amendment in the rule will give liberty to the TPP to use coal of their choice irrespective of calorific value and distance. However, they will still prefer low ash coal to avoid fly ash handling. It is expected that the TPPs will adopt new technology for use of high ash coal and Fly ash handling. The coal washery business growth will depend upon the growth of FBC power plants. The problem of coal washery reject is still unattended, washeries have to face tough questions from Expert Appraisal Committee for environmental clearance. 



The views expressed here are of writer only and do not belong to any organization, associated with.


Nice information regarding washing coal use.
Niraj Chowdhary said…
Good information in very simple words & well explained. Thanks a lot Sir.
Unknown said…
nice information, i also agree with you. moc goi has to look into the matter.
Unknown said…
showing unknown, may24, 2020 at10. 50.pm is my comments anoop kumar saxena dgm mining corp. bhopal.
P K Dwivedi said…
Very informative and explained in very simple words.
Unknown said…
Thanks to all for comments

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