The Supreme Court bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Dipak Gupta on Friday urged all state governments and Union Territories to issue similar directions prohibiting the use of pet-coke and furnace oil by any industry, operation or process within their jurisdiction as issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act of 1986 with regard to the states of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The CPCB direction dated November 15, passed in the wake of the October 24 order of the same bench banning the use of petcoke and furnace oil in the three states with a view to curb the menace of air pollution in Delhi, clarifies that it extends in application to the entire states and not merely the National Capital Region (NCR).
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing as amicus curiae in the present matter, forwarded a recommendation for imposing a ban on not just the use, but also the sale of the said fuels in the three states surrounding Delhi. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Atmaram Nadkarni sought time of one week to file the Centre’s response in this behalf.
In addition, the learned amicus curiae moved an application before the bench, emphasising on the necessity of a “cleanest fuel revolution” where only natural gas or electricity are made use of for all industrial processes, vehicles and power generation, particularly in the area of Delhi NCR which the application calls “the most toxic hell on earth”. The application states the findings of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Lancet Commission on Health and Pollution and a report in the Journal of Indian Pediatrics on the adverse effects of air pollution on the health of people in Delhi NCR.
The recommendations made to the Government of India include making functional the cleanest energy power plant in India, the Bawana gas power plant; reviewing the status of existing coal-based power plants to replace coal with gas; bringing natural gas within the purview of the GST mandate and the natural gas-based power plants under the ‘must-run’ category to make preferential the sale of power so produced; banning the import of petcoke; and implementation of the 2015 emission standards for power plants as set by the MoEF & CC w.e.f. December 1.
The top court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on the said application, moved in the PIL filed by environmental activist M. C. Mehta in 1985 on the issue of air pollution directing the ASG to submit the affidavit in reply by December 4, when the matter is next scheduled for further hearing.