Voluntarily enforce order of the environment ministry and pollution control board prohibiting the use of the two cheap fuels, says the apex court.
The Supreme Court on Friday asked all the states and union territories to consider enforcing a ban on use of pet coke and furnace oil by the industry. Asking them to voluntarily enforce the order of the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) prohibiting the use of two cheap but highly polluting industrial fuels in three states adjoining the national capital, the bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur said that the pollution caused by the pet coke and furnace oil was not just limited to the NCR but also affected other states. “For the present, we do not propose to give any direction to any other state and UT, but we request all the state governments and UTs to consider taking similar measures as have been taken by the Government of India and the Chairman of the CPCB under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,” the court said. The MoEF on November 15 had asked the CPCB to ban the use of pet coke and the furnace oil in three states – Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
In a series of steps taken by the judiciary to curb pollution in the country’s capital, the Supreme Court had last month banned pet coke, furnace oil to clean up toxic air in NCR. Delhi banned the two fuels in 1996, but their use continued in NCR by cement factories, dyeing units, paper mills, brick kilns and ceramics manufacturers. The apex court on Friday also asked the Centre to consider suggestion by amicus curiae and senior lawyer Harish Salve for banning the sale of pet coke and furnace oil as fuel. Salve argued that mere banning the use of pet coke and furnace oil is not producing the desired results as people engaged in the industry were using them as fuel when not being watched by the enforcement agencies.
He further said that big companies were involved in the sale of pet coke and the furnace oil and once there is ban, then the enforcement by the government would be easy. The SC also issued notice to the government on an application filed by Salve seeking a direction to ban the import of pet coke and furnace oil and confine the use of domestic pet coke for the sole purpose of feedstock. Salve also sought a direction that the power plants in NCR should be fuelled by the natural gas and the same should be made available in sufficient quantity. Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni told the Bench that the “banning the import of pet coke and furnace oil was under the government’s consideration.”