New Delhi: The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC) on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it was undertaking a study on the ban on petroleum coke (petcoke) before it decided on imposing a ban of its import.
Additional solicitor general of India, A.N.S. Nadkarni, appearing for MoEF&CC, further said that the ministry was “talking to the stakeholders" as well before it arrived at any decision and sought the court’s permission to bring the findings of the study on record.
The court was also informed that the ministry of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) was in favour of imposition of a ban on the import of petcoke on environmental grounds.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur was hearing a plea seeking ban on import of petcoke --an industrial fuel and an alternative to coal-- which causes several times more air pollution than coal.
The plea is part of the main public interest litigation by environmentalist M.C Mehta on the decreasing air quality in Delhi.
The apex court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in its report “Mandating Acceptable Fuels and recommending ban on sale and use of furnace oil and pet coke in NCR" in April 2017, had recommended that the distribution, sale and use of furnace oil and petcoke be strictly banned in National Capital Region.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had upheld the ban on use of petcoke in New Delhi and neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, after the air pollution level in the national capital reached hazardous level due to increased smog.
The ban on use of petcoke was relaxed, in December 2017, for cement manufacturing, lime industries and on furnace oil for power generation after the MoEF submitted that the use of petcoke in cement manufacturing plants was minuscule and it was used for non-fuel purposes. Similarly, the use of furnace oil in electricity generation plants was low in cement manufacturing units, MoEF claimed.
In April, the MoEF&CC had stated that it was considering a nationwide ban on the use of pet coke by various industries.
The matter would be next heard on 23 July.