Industries in NCR without PNG should switch to biomass by year end: Panel

Industries in NCR areas where PNG infrastructure and supply is not available have to completely switch over to biomass fuels by the year end, the Centre’s Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has directed. It also said that the maximum permissible emission standards for particulate matter for the biomass-fuelled boilers should be 80 milligrams per cubic metre.

“However, such industries shall aim for an emission level of 50 milligrams per cubic metre, through suitable technology upgrades and installation of requisite air pollution control devices such as bag filters, cyclonic filters, wet scrubbers, etc., to be decided by the individual units based on their onsite technical requirements,” the latest CAQM directions read.

While switching to the use of agro-residue, biomass fuels on a regular basis, all such industries in NCR have to apply for and obtain a revised consent to operate from the respective pollution control board with added conditions to the effect viz., permission to use bio-fuels and prescribed level of emission standards, particularly for controlling the particulate matter emissions.

The panel had earlier restricted the operations of industries not using PNG or cleaner fuels in NCR to only 5 days a week.

Later, it received representations from various organisations, associations and individuals for permitting the use of biomass fuels in addition to PNG, citing that biomass fuels are much more environment friendly than fossil fuels such as coal.

The CAQM said that an analysis of PM emissions from industries presently using biomass fuels for boiler operations indicates that biomass fuels are much superior than conventional fossil fuels like coal, diesel oil etc., in terms of carbon emissions.

“The PM emissions are much controlled and that the advantages of using such fuels far outweigh the environmental and technical concerns towards proper scientific disposal of large volumes of rice husk and other biomass as also the rampant open burning of paddy straw,” it noted.

Internationally, biomass fuels are categorised and used as relatively cleaner fuels and technical reports and scientific studies indicate that biomass fuels like rice husk and paddy straw etc., are carbon neutral fuels as the carbon dioxide released while using such fuels is less than the amount of carbon dioxide sequestrated during the entire growth cycle of the biomass, thus facilitating net carbon neutrality.

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