Updated: April 9, 2021 8:49:08 pm
The Himachal Pradesh government is yet to notify a policy to restrict the use of two highly-polluting industrial fuels — pet coke and furnace oil — despite directions by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) two years ago.
Following directions by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Pollution Control Board had, in 2019, asked all states and UTs to enforce fuel policies regarding the use of pet coke and furnace oil.
“Pet coke and furnace oil/fuel oil emit more sulphur dioxide as compared to other conventional fuels due to high sulphur content and also contribute to forming of finer secondary particulate matter in ambient air,” the CPCB had written to the states, adding that the Supreme Court had banned the use of the two fuels in the national capital region in 2017. Later, the court requested all states to consider taking similar measures, and the NGT also passed similar directions.
Himachal Pradesh then came up with a draft fuel policy, which said that there are 213 industrial units in the state which use either furnace oil or pet coke. The state government informed the CPCB in October 2019 that the policy will be finalised after a byelection model code of conduct.
However, the policy has still not been enforced. “Only once the fuel policy is notified by the government can we start implementing it in the state,” said a state pollution control board official.
The matter was also raised in the recently held budget session of the Assembly, during which the government tabled a written reply saying that the policy is “in process of finalisation”. In response to another question, the health department replied that 35 cases of lung diseases/disorders and 14 cases of ashtma have been reported in the last three years in areas lying within a radius of five kilometres from industries using pet coke as fuel.
7 non-attainment cities in Himachal
The CPCB identifies all such cities in the country where the prescribed air quality standards are violated, calling them non-attainment cities. Himachal has seven such cities, including Baddi, Nalagarh, Parwanoo, Kala Amb, Paonta Sahib, Sunder Nagar and Damtal. According to the state pollution control board, the air quality index in these cities improved significantly in 2020-21, falling for instance from 104 to 75 in Kala Amb.
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