Ensure ban on pet coke and furnace oil, National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal on July 17, 2020, directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure that States and Union Territories (UTs) ban the use of petcoke and furnace oil as fuels in industries and switch to cleaner alternatives.

Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter titled as M.C. Mehta Versus Union of India & Ors. in Writ Petition (s) (Civil) No. 13029/1985 passed an order on 24.10.2017 and banned use of pet coke and furnace oil as fuel in the NCR state of Harayana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajastan. Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated: 17.11.2017 in the above mentioned writ petition noted that, pollution caused by pet coke and furnace oil is not a problem confined to NCR states, but appears to be a problem faced by almost all the states and Union Territories in the country & suggested all the State Governments and Union Territories to consider taking measures as have been taken by Government of India and Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board in case of NCR states.

Further, the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal observed in OA No. 67/2019 titled as Sumit Kumar Versus State of HP & Ors. And Amarjeet Kumar Versus Union of India & Ors., that, “Considering the various directions and orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court regarding use of Pet-Coke and Furnace Oil (FO) containing higher sulphur, it is required that States and UTs, formulate fuel policies regarding use of Pet-Coke and FO in light of Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 24.10.2017 (banning use of Pet-Coke and FO in NCR States) and observing vide order dated 17.11.2017 that States/UTs are suggested to take similar measures. Also, further Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 13.12.2017, 05.02.2018 and 26.07.2019 allowing use of Pet-Coke in industries/processes which use Pet-Coke and FO either as feed stock such as Calcined Pet Coke (CPC) units, Aluminium industries or where they get absorbed along with product in manufacturing process such as Cement, Lime Kiln, Calcium Carbide Industries. lt is relevant to mention that use of Raw Petroleum Coke (RPC) in CPC units has been allowed with condition of 90% recovery of SO2 emission. The same principle may be followed in industrial processes where use of FO as feed stock is considered by States/UTs.”

Hon’ble NGT further observed that “on consideration of the matter, we find that in view of established adverse impact of use of Pet-Coke and FO by the industries, prohibition of its use may need consideration on ‘Precautionary’ principle as well as ‘Sustainable Development’ principle statutorily recognized under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the industries may have to switch over to alternatives and cleaner fuels. We may note that air quality in many of the locations in India is 163 not of prescribed quality and as many as 102 cities have been identified as “Non-attainment Cities” The said cities are spread over almost in all the States, including the State of Himachal Pradesh. 100 industrial clusters are declared critically polluted throughout India. This makes it imperative that any measure which is helpful in controlling air pollution must be preferred to the extent viable. These aspects have been considered by the Tribunal in order dated 08.10.2018 in O.A No. 681 0f 2018 in News Item published in “The Times of India” authored by Shri Vishwa Mohan titled “NCAP with multiple timelines to clean air in 102 cities to be released around August 15” and order dated 13.12.2018 in Original Application No. 1038/2018 in News Item published in “The Asian Age” Authored by Sanjay Kaw Titled “CPCB to rank industrial units on pollution levels” respectively.”

In this background, The Hon’ble National Green Tribunal passed Order on 28.03.2019 in OA NO. 67 of 2019 and OA No. 138 of 2019, noting the brief of the above of the Hon’ble Supreme Court Orders regarding pet coke and furnace oil and directing CPCB to issue appropriate directions in this regard to the concerned state and Union territories.