Supreme Court asks govt to decide on petroleum coke import ban by June 30
The Supreme Court of India has asked the government to take a decision on banning the import of petcoke by June 30.
“We expect and direct that a decision will be taken in this regard on or before June 30, 2018 failing which we may have to deal with the matter”, the Supreme Court said.
In November, the Supreme Court banned the use and sale of petcoke in three states around the National Capital Region to help curb pollution.
Although the ban was relaxed later for cement and lime kilns, it was followed by a petcoke import tax hike to 10% from 2.5%.
Last month, the government told the Supreme Court it was formulating a nationwide policy on the use of petcoke and it had consulted the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
On Thursday, the government told the Supreme Court that the process of receiving inputs from those two bodies was under way and would be completed within six weeks.
The Supreme Court also said the problem of air pollution was not confined to Delhi-NCR and action was needed across the country.
State pollution control boards have started monitoring the use of petcoke by industries such as calcium carbide, cement and lime, the government told the court Thursday and said the data would be analyzed to take a final call on banning imported petcoke.
According to a Mumbai-based trader source, the government cannot ban the import of petcoke when it is being produced locally, but its usage could be limited. Most end-users were confused and unsure whether to buy imported petcoke or not, while many have already switched to coal, he said.
An end-user source from Mumbai said switching to coal will not help the environment because coal has its own problems, like management of ash, and all industries do not have systems in place to handle ash.
Indian production of petcoke totaled 13.9 million mt during fiscal year 2017-18 (April-March), up 7.4% year on year, government data showed.
Petcoke imports in 2017-18 totaled 13.34 million mt, up 21%. Saudi Arabia and the US were the main supply source for the petcoke.