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The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) today told the Supreme Court that ban on use of pet coke and furnace oil may be relaxed for a certain period for power generation and cement manufacturing industries. The ministry told a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that in cement manufacturing units, use of pet coke was "miniscule" and for non-fuel purposes, while the use of furnace oil in electricity generation plants was also very low. The Centre had earlier informed the top court that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued a direction prohibiting the use of pet coke and furnace oil until further orders in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. The ministry today told the bench that in power plants, furnace oil was not used as a fuel and if its use was allowed, it might be done for a year so that in the meantime, they could come up with alternate mechanism. The bench asked the ministry to file an affidavit in this regard and posted the matter for hearing next week. The apex court had on November 22 refused to modify the Centre's notification banning use of furnace oil and pet coke in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana and asked the NTPC, which was seeking relaxation till it switched over to alternative fuel, to approach the government. The court had on October 24 banned the use of pet coke and furnace oil in the three states from November 1 in view of the pollution levels in Delhi-NCR and noted that these states had no objection to it.
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