Why in news?
- India is the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the world, contributing more than 15 percent of global anthropogenic emissions, according to a new report by Greenpeace.
What is SO2?
- Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a colorless gas with a strong odour, similar to a just-struck match.
- It is formed when fuel containing sulphur, such as coal and oil, is burnt, creating air pollution.
- Most sulphur dioxide air pollution comes from the burning of coal and oil in power plants.
- It is also emitted by trains, large ships, and some diesel equipment that burns high sulphur fuel and also by volcanic eruptions.
- It is used as a food preservative for some fruits and vegetables.
- It becomes a liquid under pressure.
- Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides affect the environment when they react with substances in the atmosphere to form acid rain.
- The primary reason for India’s high emission output is the expansion of coal-based electricity generation over the past decade.
Efforts by India to reduce SO2 emissions:
- The Environment Ministry had introduced SO2 emission limits for coal power plants in December 2015 and set the initial deadline to control SO2 emissions from power generation by December 2017.
- The deadline was later extended till December 2019 after a request from the Ministry of Power and power plant operators in Delhi-NCR and till 2022 for some other power plants across the country through a Supreme Court order.
- India has over 15 percent of all anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2) hotspots in the world.The main SO2 hotspots in India are Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh (5th position in the world), Korba in Chhattisgarh, Talcher and Jharsuguda in Odisha, Neyveli and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Kutch in Gujarat, Ramagundam in Telangana and Chandrapur and Koradi in Maharashtra.
- Norilsk smelter complex in Russia is the largest SO2 emission hotspot in the world, followed by Kriel in Mpumalanga province in South Africa and Zagroz in Iran.