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Supreme Court Bans Pet Coke and Furnace Oil to bring down Air Pollution in NCR

India tops the list of biggest consumers of pet coke globally, which emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal. Consequently, India also records the highest number of deaths with pollution as its main cause

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Industries employing pet coke and furnace oil emit large amounts of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 25, 2017 : Environmental issues have been on the Supreme Court’s radar lately. After the crackers-ban on Diwali, the Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the use of two cheap but extremely polluting industrial fuels in and around New Delhi in an attempt to clean the air in the national capital region (NCR).

The Supreme Court banned the use of petroleum coke which is a dirtier alternative to coal, and furnace oil and has directed three states namely Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to notify the ban on immediate basis. The decision came after the Court was informed about the soaring pollution levels in NCR following Diwali due to toxic gas emissions by industries that rely heavily on petroleum coke (commonly called pet coke) and furnace oil.

However, this was not the first time that the two pollutants were banned.

Previously, the hazardous fuels had been banned in Delhi in 1996. However, despite court restrictions, their use continued in the NCR in brick kilns, cement factories, ceramics manufacturers and paper mills.

The new order comes after a government-appointed body, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) found high sulphur levels and recommended banning the two fuels to the court in April.

ALSO READ Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice MB Lokur ordered for the ban to come into effect naturally from November 1 in case the government failed to notify the prohibit.

Why Did The Supreme Court Ban Pet Coke and Furnace Oil?

India tops the list of biggest consumers of pet coke globally, which emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal. Consequently, India also records the highest number of deaths with pollution as its main cause with 2.5 million Indians facing earth deaths in 2015, as per data by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health

For an easier comparison, petrol and diesel comprise of 50 PPM (parts per million) of the extremely dangerous sulphur.

On the other hand, pet coke has 69,000-74,000 PPM and furnace oil has 15,000- 23,000 ppm sulphur in its composition.

Industries employing these two fuels emit large amounts of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems like asthma, and bronchitis.

Burning of pet coke also releases sulphur dioxide which is a known cause of several lung diseases and acid rain.

How Will The Ban Affect Industries?

The ban on pet coke and furnace oil is believed to imply heavy losses to the industries using these fuels; the worst hit will be numerous small and medium sized industries that employ thousands of workers.

“Furnace oil is used in estimated
50-60% industries. As an alternate,
we can use CNG but it will cost us
nearly 2-3 times more”
– Dinesh Mittal,
                                     President of Sahibabad Industrial Area, Site-IV, (as told to Hindustan Times)

Pet coke is known to deliver more per-unit energy in comparison to coal, and is also readily and cheaply available which is why small-sized industries depend heavily on them. The low costs make it an attractive offer for the buyers. Banning the fuels may further restrict their ability to expand operations and hire more staff.

The Central Pollution Control Board had submitted a draft on stipulated norms in June which only received attention and was uploaded on the ministry website in October.  The furious Supreme Court also pulled up on the Centre for being insensitive and for “sitting and doing nothing” about the growing pollution levels in the NCR.

The Supreme Court has now ordered for the governments of  Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to notify the ban and complete the exercise by December 31.

 

Next Story

Supreme Court Signals Out Automobiles Cause Much More Pollution Than Burning Firecrackers

Making it clear that it does not want to generate "unemployment", the court said those who would lose their livelihood can't be compensated in terms of alternate jobs, financial or other support if the firecracker industry was shut down.

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air pollution
Linking the plea for a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country with Article 19 (1)(g) guaranteeing the right to occupation, trade or business, a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde flagged the issue of loss of jobs if there was a clampdown on the firecracker manufacturing industry. Pixabay

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why firecrackers were being singled out for rising pollution levels when automobiles caused much more pollution. It asked the Centre to apprise it with a comparative study of the two.

Linking the plea for a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country with Article 19 (1)(g) guaranteeing the right to occupation, trade or business, a bench headed by Justice S.A. Bobde flagged the issue of loss of jobs if there was a clampdown on the firecracker manufacturing industry.

Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution guarantees the right “to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”.

crackers
Observing how there can be a ban on the firecracker industry whose operations were legal and licensed, Justice Bobde said the way out was not cancelling the license but there could be a change in the licensing conditions.
Pixabay

Sitting along with Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, Justice Bobde said the issue had not been examined on the touchstone of Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution.

Making it clear that it does not want to generate “unemployment”, the court said those who would lose their livelihood can’t be compensated in terms of alternate jobs, financial or other support if the firecracker industry was shut down.

Observing how there can be a ban on the firecracker industry whose operations were legal and licensed, Justice Bobde said the way out was not cancelling the license but there could be a change in the licensing conditions.

crackers
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why firecrackers were being singled out for rising pollution levels when automobiles caused much more pollution. Pixabay

The top court’s observations came in the course of hearing a PIL by a toddler — Arjun Gopal — seeking ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country.

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Noting the work being done by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to produce green firecrackers, the top court had in its last order asked NEERI and PESO to stick the timeline culminating in the bulk production of firecrackers based on the new formulations by May 10, 2019.

The top court had in October 2018 permitted the use of only green firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels during all religious festivals. (IANS)