New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to take a decision by June 30 this year on the issue of banning the import of petroleum coke in the country.
The apex court also asked the government to consider implementing the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) first in Delhi as the people were “struggling” due to pollution in the national capital. NCAP is aimed at tackling air pollution problem in 100 cities across the country.
“You have lots of programmes but you can’t implement it. You can’t implement the programmes in Delhi and you are talking about pan-India. You at least implement it (NCAP) in Delhi first,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta told additional solicitor general A.N.S. Nadkarni, who was appearing for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
“We are struggling in Delhi for years due to pollution. You implement the NCAP here at least,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a matter related to a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M.C. Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.
Nadkarni told the bench that the comprehensive action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR would be notified in its entirety within four weeks. He told the bench that parts of the comprehensive action plan have already been implemented in Delhi-NCR.
The bench, however, asked Nadkarni to ensure that the programmes aimed at tackling air pollution were not only notified, but also implemented properly. It posted the matter for further hearing in July.
Petroleum coke is the cheaper and dirtier alternative to coal which has much higher carbon and sulphur content. The Hindu Business Line reported that its use in Delhi and NCR had been banned by the Supreme Court last year in October. However, later in December, Supreme Court judge Madan Bhimrao Lokur issued an exemption order for cement and limestone industries and asked the government to frame guidelines for the use of pet coke.
The government, later in April, informed the top court that it was considering a nationwide ban on the use of pet coke by various industries and a decision was likely to be taken within a month, reported Business Standard. A blanket ban of pet coke might hit the small and medium scale industries which operate on thin margins.
(With inputs from PTI)