The National Green Tribunal today directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to set up an experts’ panel to examine the harmful effects of petroleum coke or petcoke on human health and environment.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the Environment Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to form the committee which should submit the report in two months.
The green panel passed the order after going through the submission made by CPCB which said that no study has been conducted by it on the adverse effects of the petroleum coke on the environment.
Petcoke is a high calorific value solid fuel which is extensively used for power generation in various countries.
It granted liberty to the petitioner, an environment activist, to approach the committee for redressal of his grievances.
Advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, appearing for the petitioner, said that 18.3 million tonne pet coke was used in the country in 2015-16 which speaks volumes of the quantity which is being consumed as a fuel.
“This petcoke contains 7-8 per cent sulphur in it, which means more than 1.5 million tonne sulphur is going in the environment through the chimneys of various factories,” the lawyer said, adding that many foreign countries have already banned the use of petcoke as fuel as it emits sulphur in high quantity.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Pritam Singh seeking a ban on the use of all forms of pet coke, as it emits fine particulate matter (PM) which is harmful to human health.
The petition had contended that the demand and supply of petcoke was increasing at a high rate due to cheaper cost and better availability, compared to coal.
The tribunal had earlier said that industries which do not have permission to use petroleum coke as fuel should be shut down immediately.
The green panel had directed the MoEF and all state governments to decide within two months whether petcoke was “an approved fuel” as per the environmental laws.
The NGT had allowed the units having necessary consent to use pet coke as industrial fuel to operate for a period of two months till the time a policy is finalised.