THE SUPREME Court on Tuesday directed Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to ban the use of pet coke and furnace oil in industries, failing which, the court said, it will be forced to ban these material from November 1.
In its order on May 2, the court had directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to fix sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxide standards for these industries. It had said that standards should be fixed on or before June 30.
The bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also fined the MoEF Rs 2 lakh for delay in drawing up pollution emission standards for industries using pet coke and furnace oil in NCR.
On Tuesday, the bench termed it a “completely disgusting state of affairs,” and asked the ministry why the standards were not finalised despite its earlier direction.
“You (MoEF) tell us what you were doing for three-four months. You file an affidavit and say (that) we do not care about pollution,” the bench remarked. “Industries have said they would comply with whatever standards are fixed. Industries say so, and the ministry sits on it. We do not know what is going on.”
The ministry’s counsel told the court that a draft notification in this regard was issued on Tuesday and a period of 60 days has been given for raising objections on it.
The court-appointed Environmental Protection (Prevention and Control) Authority had recommended that “distribution, sale and use of furnace oil and pet coke should be strictly banned in NCR”.
Centre for Science and Environment research associate Polash Mukherjee said the import of pet coke has nearly tripled over the last three years. “In 2013-14, the US imposed control of its use of pet coke but 60 per cent of India’s imports come from the US,” Mukherjee said.