The Environment (Protection) Rules 1986 and the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 were enacted and came into force in the same year. While the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 has 26 sections and four chapters, the Environment (Protection) Rules 1986 has a series of sections that prescribes the standards for the discharge or emission of pollutants, standard operating procedures (SOP), directions and prohibitions on various industrial activities. Both these legislations provide for the protection and improvement of the environment and empower the Central Government to take any measure it deems vital to protect the environmental quality and control and abate environmental pollution. The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 has been amended from time to time to include key changes such as:
The most recent amendment was with the Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2023, which is related to the revision of the emission standard of particulate matter for industrial boilers. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified the amendment on May 17, 2023. The amendment was done to lay down separate standards for the different types of fuel used in industrial boilers and promote new use of new-age technologies that are less polluting and ultimately improve the air quality.
Earlier serial number 70 in Schedule-l,- (a), which referred to small boilers, laid down the particulate matter emission limit in 4 categories based on the steam generation. After the amendment, the categories have been reduced to 3, and the particulate emission criteria have also been modified. The new limits have been provided based on the type of Industrial Boiler (fuel-wise). The present emissions limit and the revised limits have been tabulated for comparison.
Presently applicable limits
|Steam generation capacity (ton/hour)||Particulate matters emission (mg/Nm3 )|
|less than 2||1200*|
|2 to less than 10||800*|
|10 to less than 15||600*|
|15 and above||150**|
|Steam generation capacity (ton/hour)||Type of Industrial Boilers (fuel-wise) and Standards|
|Agro-based fuels/bagasse||Other fuels|
|less than 2||500 mg/Nm3||500 mg/Nm3|
|2 to less than 10||250 mg/Nm3||150 mg/Nm3|
|10 to less than 15||250 mg/Nm3||100 mg/Nm3|
Apart from the revision of the emission limit for particulate matter, the formula for determining the minimum stack height (in meters) and normalisation criteria for particulate matter have been given.
Minimum stack height (in meters) formula
H=14Q0.3 (where Q is SO2 emission rate in kg/hr); or
H=74Q0.27 (where Q is PM emission rate in tonne/hr), whichever is more.
Note: However, the stack height shall not be less than 11 m for boilers of < 2 ton/hour steam generation capacity and 30 m for boilers of higher steam generation capacity.
Normalisation criteria for particulate matter: As per the Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2023, the measured values of PM, SO2, and NOx are to be normalised at 6% O2 for solid fuels and at 3% O2 for liquid fuels, on a dry basis, for comparing with above standards
Normalised value = Measured value × [ (21- Ref O2 at 6 or 3 %) / (21 – measured O2 in %)]
Note: These standards are for industrial boilers using coal or lignite, pet coke, bagasse or agro-fuels, and Furnace Oil or Light Diesel Oil or Low Sulphur Heavy Stock, boilers of bagasse or agro-fuels based power plants, and also for Thermic Fluid Heater and Hot Air Generator on equivalent fuel consumption basis. For boilers of coal or lignite-based power plants, the emission standards notified for thermal power plants, vide notification no S.O. 3305 (E), dated 7th December 2015, will be applicable
(b) Serial number 59 shall be omitted;
(c) Serial number 37 shall be omitted.
The Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2023 are a significant step forward in India’s efforts to protect the environment. The rules will help to reduce pollution from air emissions from Boilers used in a number of Industries. The revised criteria will also help to improve the management of India’s natural resources.
The rules are expected to have a significant impact on a number of industries. Power plants, refineries, and cement factories will be required to invest in pollution control equipment significantly. Other sectors, such as manufacturing and chemical industries, will also be affected and will need to bring changes to conform with the new rules. Some industries may be reluctant to comply with the new rules, as they may be costly to implement. In many cases, there can be a lack of resources to enforce the new rules in the industry or a lack of awareness among businesses and the general public. However, the government has given two years for the Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2023, to come into force.
The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, has played a significant role in protecting the overall environment in India. The rules have helped to reduce air pollution, water pollution, and waste generation. It has also helped to improve the management of India’s natural resources. These rules have been constantly updated by the legislature to meet the changing needs of the country. Despite these challenges, the Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2023 are a positive step forward for India’s environment. The rules will help to improve the quality of life for all Indians and protect the country’s natural resources for future generations.