SC bans 'dirty fuel' to fight Delhi pollution| MENAFN.COM

Tuesday, 16 August 2022 09:19 GMT

SC bans 'dirty fuel' to fight Delhi pollution

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) The Supreme Court yesterday banned the use of petroleum coke - a cheap but dirty fuel - in and around New Delhi, the latest crackdown aimed at improving air quality in one of the most polluted cities in the world.
The court also ordered a ban on the sale and use of furnace oil - a polluting refinery by-product - in industries in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan starting November 1.
Furnace oil and pet-coke are the dirtiest by-products from the refinery process and use of these fuels was banned in Delhi in 1996.
But glass manufacturing units and other industries around the Indian capital continue to be reliant on them for their energy needs.
Delhi experiences suffocating smog every year around Diwali when farmers in north India burn the stubble left behind after the harvest and revellers let off smoke-spewing firecrackers.
The latest ban follows another recent court order that barred sale of firecrackers in Delhi ahead of Diwali.
The onset of winter aggravates the problem as the cooler air traps the pollutants, a phenomenon known as inversion.
'It is a big win for Delhi as well as the rest of the country fighting a tough battle against toxic pollution, the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment said in a statement.
'Use of such dirty fuels contributes hugely to toxic gases like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the air, the environmental watchdog said.
India is the world's biggest consumer of petroleum coke, a dark solid composed mainly of carbon, which emits 11% more greenhouse gases than coal, according to the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy.
Burning it also emits several times more sulphur dioxide, which causes lung diseases and acid rain.
Annual demand for the fuel, which is more energy efficient than coal, has nearly doubled over the past four years to more than 27mn tonnes.
Last week, the Lancet medical journal said pollution had claimed as many as 2.5mn lives in India in 2015, the highest in the world.
Indian health ministry data shows that respiratory issues killed about 10 people per day in the year ended March 2017 in the National Capital Region - a rapidly urbanising and polluted area around New Delhi that is a third the size of New York state, but houses 2.5 times more people.
Those deaths could be the result of pollution from many sources, including coal, or have other causes.
The ban on the sale and use of pet-coke could hit the country's small and medium scale industries, which employ millions of workers and operate on thin margins.
Pet-coke and other cheap, highly polluting fuels such as furnace oil are widely used by cement factories, dyeing units, paper mills, brick kilns and ceramics businesses.
Puneet Gupta, founder of online coal and pet-coke marketplace CoalShastra, said 'per-unit delivered energy for pet-coke is much cheaper when compared to the next alternate, coal, making it attractive for buyers.
Users say they also prefer the fuel over coal because of its assured supply.
Such companies say banning cheap fuel might stunt their ability to expand and hire more staff, just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to create jobs.
Pet-coke demand fell in August after Hurricane Harvey hit shipments from the United States, the biggest exporter to India, but analysts and traders say consumption is likely to recover and continue growing, unless there is a country-wide ban.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) urged farmers to conserve paddy straw in a scientific manner and not to recklessly burning it.
'The Air Quality Index has deteriorated mainly on account of the fact that the farmers of Punjab have been burning paddy straw at large scale, an official said.


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