The Supreme Court-appointed EPCA was today informed that gas supply was sufficient across the National Capital Region and the time was ripe to prohibit use of polluting industrial fuels like furnace oil and pet coke. Natural gas companies informed the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) at a meeting here that they had supply network in critical areas of the National Capital Region, however, cost of gas was an issue.
Nevertheless, EPCA chairman Bhure Lal and its member Sunita Narain made it clear that the Environment Ministry should ban the fuels without any further delay.
“India has become the dumping ground of pet coke from countries like USA and China,” Narain, who heads Cente for Science and Environment, said.
Such a ban is expected to have a huge impact on the industry, which is reluctant to switch to gas by replacing furnace oil (FO) and pet coke, as the alternative continues to be expensive.
FO is used to generate power in industries to run boilers, turbines etc. The cost of power generated using FO is around Rs 4 to Rs 5 per unit, while it is Rs 7 to Rs 8 per unit in case of gas.
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Companies like GAIL, IGL and Adani Gas present in the meeting expressed concern that the cost of natural gas may actually go up after implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), further complicating the process.
Narain pitched for removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from the cost of gas, which she said could help it emerge as a viable alternative.
Earlier, EPCA had informed the apex court that rampant use of FO, a sulphur-heavy fuel, in industries across NCR was generating “enormous” amount of air pollutants which needed immediate attention. While FO is a “bottom-of-the-barrel” product at refineries, pet coke is a by-product found in these facilities. There has been a spike in their sales possibly due to a “crash” in the global fuel prices, the panel had said.