The Supreme Court (SC) on 24 October 2017 directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Haryana and Rajasthan to ban the use of petroleum (pet) coke and furnace oil in the industries with an aim to fight air pollution.
The ruling was made by a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta. The bench also clarified that it will ban the use of pet coke and furnace oil in these three states from 1 November 2017, if the respective governments did not prohibit their use in the industries by then.
Besides ruling this, the court fined Union Environment Ministry with Rs 2 lakh for not finalising pollution emission standards for industries using pet coke and furnace oil in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The bench also directed the Ministry to notify the standards for Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and Sulphur Oxides (SOx) for the industry sector and the industries need to comply with the standards by 31 December 2017.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist MC Mehta in 1985, who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.
This order came as the response to the recommendations of the Environment Protection (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) that found very high sulphur levels in pet coke and furnace oil, ranging from over 20000 Parts Per Million (PPM) in furnace oil to over 74000 PPM in pet-coke.
Considering furnace oil and pet-coke as the dirtiest by-products of the refinery process, EPCA recommended that distribution, sale and use of furnace oil and pet coke should be strictly banned in NCR in order to curb air pollution.
The furnace oil and pet-coke were earlier banned in Delhi in 1996 for releasing deadly sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide fumes into the air and polluting the air.
Who: Supreme Court
When: 24 October 2017