Pet coke is 'highly polluting': Centre tells SC

The government today told the Supreme Court that pet coke was a "highly polluting" fuel and its use should be allowed only in certain industries as feedstock and not for manufacturing purpose.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) told a bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that it had convened a meeting with the officials of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) and Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) in this regard and had also discussed it with Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the MoEF&CC, said that a consensus decision was taken during the deliberation that use of imported pet coke all over the country be permitted only in industries like cement, lime stone and calcium carbide.

Nadkarni said that import of pet coke was running into Rs 15,000 crore annually and decision to ban it would have implication on foreign exchange and they would discuss with the Ministry of Finance on this issue.

"But we have said that it (pet coke) is highly polluting. It can only be used for cleaner purposes," he told the bench.

Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said that the MoEF&CC, MoPNG, DGFT and EPCA were on the same page on this issue and pet coke should be allowed to be used as a feedstock in industries.

"Today, the MoPNG, which is the nodal agency for pet coke, has clearly said it (pet coke) has to be regulated. DGFT has also clarified its position that they have no objection on it. In the meeting, MoEF&CC has also agreed on it. I would request the Supreme Court to pass an order based on this consensus," Singh said.

The amicus said that EPCA has suggested that domestic pet coke should be preferred over imported pet coke for these category of industries.

Meanwhile, Nadkarni said that since the issue of import of pet coke have implications on foreign exchange, the Finance Ministry has to be consulted and it would take some time.

The bench observed that when the US and China banned use of pet coke, Indian industries started using it become cheaper.

Nadkarni said that issue of use of pet coke by aluminium and steel industries was pending consideration and it would take eight weeks time to take a decision on it.

The bench

said that since a decision has been taken by the authorities on use of pet coke, the same should be notified and implemented immediately.

The apex court, which noted that it had earlier asked the Centre to decide on the issue of banning import of pet coke by June 30, has posted the matter for hearing on October 9.

The court was hearing the matter on ban on import of pet coke which had cropped up while adjudicating a matter which had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-national capital region.