The Supreme Court on Tuesday fixed the import limit for petroleum coke at 0.5 metric tonne per annum (mtpa) and calcined petroleum coke at 1.4 mtpa.
A bench, led by Justice Madan B Lokur, said it will hear in detail the submissions of the aluminum and steel industry on how much import of pet coke should be allowed, but for now, it has fixed the import limit at 0.5 mtpa and 1.4 mtpa.
Earlier in December, the Supreme Court had eased its ban on use of petcoke in cement and limestone industries while directing the Centre to frame regulations for the limited use of the cheap but highly polluting industrial fuels.
It had also appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority to seek response from various stakeholders on the issue of import of petcoke.
Earlier, the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) and EPCA had agreed that the use of pet coke in cement isn’t harmful due to absorption of sulphur and its use is integral to the cement industry before it found a suitable alternative. It had requested the court to relax ban on use of petcoke and furnace oil for a certain period for power generation and cement manufacturing industries.
While environmentalists had highlighted use of petroleum coke is harmful to the environment, the aluminum, steel, calciners and cement industries had submitted that they use petroleum coke as a feed stock and not as fuel.
Cement companies had argued that since pet coke is used in the kiln as a feedstock, it’s not as polluting as using pet-coke as a fuel by power plants.
In a series of steps to control high levels of pollution in the National Capital Region, the SC on October 24 banned the use of petcoke and furnace oil, effective from November 1. It made it clear that the ban would be extended to the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh if the governments did not prohibit their use in industries by November 1. The use of petcoke and furnace oil is already prohibited in Delhi.
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.