“People are more important than industries,” said a bench of justices. The bench asked the government whether it had allowed the import of pet coke without studying its effect on people’s health. Justices M.B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta reprimanded the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for being keen to allow the import of pet coke. “People are dying in the city due to a huge amount of pollution”.
Representing MoEF, additional solicitor general A.N.S. Nadkarni said the ministry would be conducting a study. To this, the bench said that the people came first. Earlier this year, the government had proposed a nationwide ban on pet coke to curb air pollution.
Northern India based companies – factories and industries had been affected by the government and SC ban on the use of pet coke which is a by-product of the oil refining process. This is mainly used by factories and power generating plants. Pet coke is composed primarily of carbon. The Indian oil ministry is supportive of the government imposing a ban on pet coke imports. This is in an effort to tackle India’s severe air pollution.
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Last winter, the people of Delhi struggled to breathe as the air thickened with pollution. Pet coke is considered one of the contributing factors to India’s air pollution. It releases sulfur and nitrogen oxides in high quantities which is very much harmful to humans. Small industries have been affected by pet coke’s ban because it is extremely cheap.
The ban had mainly been in the NCR as well as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. To discourage the import and use of pet coke, the government had raised the import duty from 2.5 % to 10%. Industries use pet coal because it’s much cheaper than coal and is easier to handle as fuel. Cement, textile, steel and brick factories are the top users of this refinery by-product. India is the world’s largest consumer of pet coke.