New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday eased its ban on use of petcoke for cement manufacturing, lime industries and on furnace oil for power generation.

A bench headed by justice Madan B. Lokur directed the government to modify its notification permitting the use and lay down regulations for such use.

The court also directed the government to consult all stakeholders on the issue of import of petcoke.

The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) on 4 December had sought for the ban on use of petcoke and furnace oil to be relaxed for a certain period for power generation and cement manufacturing industries. In the meantime, they could come up with an alternate mechanism.

It was 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.

In a bid to control high levels of pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR), the court on 24 October banned the use of petcoke and furnace oil, effective from 1 November.

It made it clear that the ban would be extended to the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh if the governments did not prohibit their use in industries by 1 November. The use of petcoke and furnace oil is already prohibited in Delhi.

The order was one in a series of orders passed by the court to help curb growing pollution in the NCR.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by environmentalist M.C. Mehta.

Earlier, the apex court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in its report to the apex court, had recommended that the distribution, sale and use of furnace oil and petcoke be strictly banned in NCR.

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