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It will cost India’s coal-fired power plants at least Rs. 73,000 crore to comply with the government’s directive to implement clean technology in existing and new plants, an analysis has shown.

This could mean, at the minimum, a 10% hike in electricity bills for consumers, researchers say.

Current rules say that coal-fired power plants have to ensure that they curtail sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from their smoke stack by implementing appropriate technology. While this was to be in place by 2017, it has now been extended to 2022 by the Union Environment Ministry.

For the analysis, coal plant units producing about 177,000 MW of power were analysed.

The plants were all commissioned on or before June 2017. “The total capex required for pollution-control technology installation is estimated to be significant. The costs range between Rs. 73,176 crore if plants marked for retirement are not retrofitted and Rs. 86,135 crore if the retrofits were to happen across all eligible plants. This will add between INR 0.32 per kWh to INR 0.72 per kWh (or around 9% to 21% to average tariffs) of electricity generated from these plants,” the report prepared by the International Institute of Sustainable Development and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water said.

Exorbitant as the cost of retrofitting plants may be, not doing so would mean around 300,000 to 320,000 premature deaths and 5.1 crore hospital cases due to respiratory disorders between 2019 and 2030.

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