The Supreme Court of India on October 24, 2017, passed an order which banned the use of Pet Coke and Furnace Oil in and around the National Capital Region, effective from November 1, 2017. The court has directed the Governments viz., Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to ban the use of pet coke and furnace oil in industries within each state. The order was passed based on the hearing of a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist MC Mehta, in the case of MC Mehta vs Union of India, I.A. No. 345, Writ Petition Civil No. 13029 of 1985, who had raised the issue of air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
The Supreme Court had appointed a panel – the Environment Pollution (prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA), which submitted the 72nd Report on “Mandating Acceptable Fuels and recommending ban on sale and use of furnace oil and pet coke in NCR” on April 4, 2017 in compliance with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated March 6, 2017, and had demanded prohibition on polluting industrial fuels.
The Supreme Court had also passed an order on May 2, 2017, prohibiting the use of pet coke and furnace oil in Delhi. Further, the Court on June 30, 2017, directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to fix sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide standards for 35 types of industries operating in NCR by the end of June, 2017, keeping in mind the provisions of Environment Protection Act, 1986.
In furtherance to the above, the Supreme Court, consisting of a bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta imposed a fine of INR 2,00,000 on the Union Environment Ministry for not finalising pollution emission standards for industries using pet coke and furnace oil in the National Capital Region.
The MoEF had issued a draft notification with regards to the ban of pet coke and furnace oil on October 22, 2017, wherein a waiting period of 6-8 weeks was given in case anybody had objections to it.
The order passed by the Supreme Court means that industries in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan would have to find replacements for pet coke and furnace oil on or before November 1, 2017.