Asia & Australia

November 22, 2017

Ban on petroleum coke in New Delhi upheld: SC

Petroleum Coke

On November 22, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on use of petroleum coke in and around New Delhi as the country battles to clean the air in one of the world’s most polluted cities.

According to the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, India is the world’s biggest consumer of petroleum coke - a dirtier alternative to coal composed mainly of carbon - which emits 11 percent more greenhouse gases than coal. Burning it leads to emission of several times more sulphur dioxide, causing lung diseases and acid rain.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur said in its order, “Keeping in view the fact that pollution is increasing, we are not lifting the ban on use of petcoke and furnace oil in these industrial units in three states,” referring to polluting units.

The ban came into effect on November 1 and covers the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Earlier this month, the record levels of smog in New Delhi and other major centres have piled pressure on the government to tackle a growing public health crisis.

Many cement factories, dyeing units, paper mills, brick kilns and ceramics businesses are widely using sulphur-heavy petcoke and other cheap, highly polluting fuels such as furnace oil.

India’s annual demand for the fuel has nearly doubled over the past four years to more than 27 million tonnes. Indian health ministry data shows that respiratory issues killed about 10 people per day in the year ended March 2017 in the National Capital Region - a rapidly urbanizing and polluted area around New Delhi that is a third the size of New York state, but houses 2.5 times more people.

The country’s small and medium scale industries could be affected by the continued ban on the sale and use of petcoke, which employ millions of workers and operate on thin margins.

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