Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asked state-owned firms to increase supply of natural gas and alternative fuels to states where the use of polluting petroleum coke and furnace oil has been banned. The Supreme Court had last month banned the use and sale of petroleum coke a dirtier alternative to coal and furnace oil in areas around the national capital, which is battling alarming levels of air pollution. The ban came into effect from November 1. Following that, the Environment Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board on November 15 brought into "immediate effect a prohibition on the use of pet coke and furnace oil by any industry, operation or processes within the States of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan until further orders". Pradhan, in a Twitter post, said: "Reviewed use of furnace oil & its impact on pollution. Asked Oil PSUs to increase the supply of gas and alternate fuels in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh & Haryana and provide to the earlier users of Furnace Oil." He reviewed the use of the two so-called dirty fuels with officials of the ministries of environment, heavy industries and coal. Petroleum coke, or pet coke, is a cheap but polluting fuel used by industries like cement, paper brick kiln, chemicals and textiles. "About 27 million tonnes pet coke is used in India out of which 50% is imported.
Use of petcoke should be regulated for non-polluting purposes," he said in another tweet. The apex court had last week asked all states and Union Territories to move towards a nationwide ban on the use of pet coke and furnace oil in industries to check pollution. A ban on pet coke and furnace oil in Delhi has been in effect since 1996. The October 24 order of the Supreme Court banned its sale and use in the national capital region, which comprises Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad. India consumed 14 million tonnes (MT) of pet coke during April-October 2017, marginally lower than 14.9 MT used in same period of last fiscal. Of the fuel consumed, only 8 MT was produced locally and the rest was imported. Fuel oil consumption was 4 MT in April-October, a shade lower than 4.3 MT of last year. However, Fuel Oil production at 6.5 MT was higher than the consumption, necessitating exports. India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) in a note last month had said that cement prices in northern India will increase due to the ban on the use of pet coke.
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