New Delhi [India], Oct 9 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday put restriction on import of petroleum coke or pet coke by the aluminium and calciner industries up to 0.5 million tonnes and 1.4 million tonnes respectively per year.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta restricted the limit after aluminium and calciners industries sought relief from the restriction.
The apex court said it will hear detailed submissions of the aluminium industry and steel industry on how much import of pet coke, which is used as industrial fuel, should be allowed.
Earlier, the top court had taken into note the suggestions of court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, that the use of imported pet coke all over the country may be permitted only in the cement, lime kiln, calcium carbide and gasification industries.
Later in August, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) came up with a notice that import of pet coke for fuel purpose is prohibited.
However, advocate Aparajita Singh who appeared for the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) requested the court that Calciner and Aluminium industries may be allowed to import pet coke for use as feedstock.
"The calciner industry should be allowed to import pet coke as its industry uses it for feedstock and not for fuel. For aluminium industry, EPCA recommended that the industry can be allowed to import calcined pet coke as it would require roughly 0.4-0.6 million tonnes annually," Singh said while adding that pet coke is a highly polluting fuel.
In its report, the EPCA suggested strengthening of regulations to ensure that the usage of per coke is monitored and the pollutions gains are recorded.
The Supreme Court, apart from limiting the use of pet coke, also issued a notice to the Graphite India company based in Bengaluru and asked it to file an affidavit on "why the use calcined pet coke is not stopped by it with immediate effect."
During the hearing, Singh brought to court's attention that Graphite India's plant in Whitefield, Bengaluru was responsible for pollution in the vicinity and the local community has complained about the presence of black dust in their homes, which is endangering their health.
"The state pollution board also informed EPCA of its recent visit to the plant and confirmed the presence of black particles in nearby homes. It was agreed that the likely source of pollution was the fugitive dust from the plant. Graphite India assured EPCA that it would take all measures to ensure that pollution is mitigated within the next three months. This matter, however, highlights the need for caution in allowing the industry to use this highly polluting fuel," Singh told the court.
Earlier, Graphite India was allowed to import pet coke after EPCA's recommendation.
Pet coke is used as a substitute for coal as an industrial fuel as it is cheaper. However, its carbon and sulphur content is much higher and it releases harmful dioxides and other pollutants upon combustion, adding to air pollution concerns. (ANI)