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Industries which do not have permission to use petroleum coke, also called pet coke, as a fuel should be closed immediately, the National Green Tribunal ordered today.
Pet coke is a high calorific value solid fuel which is extensively used for power generation in various countries.
The green panel directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and all state governments to decide within two months whether the pet coke was "an approved fuel" as per the environmental laws.
The NGT, however, allowed units having necessary consent to use pet coke as an industrial fuel to operate for a period of two months till the time a policy is finalised.
"MoEF shall take a decision on classification of pet coke whether it is hazardous waste or not in view of the provisions of the Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016 and issue necessary notification/clarification in this regard within a period of two months," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The apex environment watchdog directed the Central Pollution Control Board to communicate this direction to all the state pollution control boards and ensure the compliance within one month.
The verdict came on a plea filed by NGO People for Education Research Scholarship and Outward Nutrition seeking restrictions on handling of pet coke and its use as an industrial fuel.
According to the applicant, burning of the pet coke poses a significant health risk due to emissions of high concentration of various air pollutants in the environment.