MoEFCC mulling ban on import of pet coke

New Delhi : The Supreme Court (SC), on Wednesday, permitted the Centre to modify the notification banning the use of pet coke and furnace oil in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana for industries like cement, lime stone and for thermal power plants.

While cement and lime industries use pet coke, thermal power plants use furnace oil. The apex court also directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to come out with regulations for the sale of pet coke and fix emission standards for thermal power plants. A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that the notification might be modified after the regulations were finalised and put in place.  The Centre had earlier informed the top court that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued a direction prohibiting the use of pet coke and furnace oil until further orders in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.

The use of pet coke and furnace oil is already prohibited in Delhi. The top court had on October 24 banned the use of pet coke and furnace oil in these three states from November 1 in view of the pollution levels in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) and noted that these states had no objection to it. During the hearing, the bench dealt with several issues related to ban on the use of pet coke and furnace oil. Regarding the use of pet coke in cement industries, the bench noted the submissions of an advocate, assisting the court as amicus curiae, as well as contentions of the MoEFCC.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for MoEF, told the court that the system of regulation on the sale of pet coke would be brought into force within four weeks. On the use of pet coke in lime industries, the bench asked the government to come out with emission standards.

Regarding the use of furnace oil in thermal power plants, the amicus told the bench that the Ministry of Power has requested permitting the use of furnace oil for a period of one year till thermal power plants switch to alternate fuel. The bench accepted timeline given in this regard by the MoEF and said that thermal power plants would have to switch over to an alternative fuel within a year. The SC said other issues, including emission standards for thermal power plants, would be considered on the next date of hearing in January 2018. Meanwhile, the MoEFCC has said in its affidavit filed in the court that they were considering the issue of a ban on imports of pet coke.

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