SC-appointed body calls for ban on use of sulphur-heavy fuel in industries across NCR
Rampant use of sulphur-heavy fuel, like furnace oil and pet coke, in industries across the National Capital Region (NCR) is generating “enormous” amount of air pollutants and it needs immediate attention, a Supreme Court-appointed body has said.
While furnace oil (FO) is ‘bottom-of-the-barrel’ product at refineries, pet coke is a by-product found in these facilities and there has been a spike in their sales possibly due to a “crash” in the global fuel prices, the Environment Pollution (Control and Prevention) Authority (EPCA) said.
The panel has called for amendments to the 1996 notification that had banned these fuels in Delhi and extension of its ambit across NCR.
The authority has recommended that the states in the region adopt policies towards incentivising clean fuel over polluting fuel, observing that the situation is quite the opposite at present.
“While governments provide tax exemptions to FO, Uttar Pradesh does not charge VAT on FO whereas natural gas is taxed. In Uttar Pradesh, cleaner natural gas is charged VAT at 10 per cent. This is the case in other states as well,” an EPCA investigation into quality of fuel being used in NCR said.
Around 30,000 metric tonnes of FO have been sold every month in NCR last year, the report noted.
EPCA stressed on the need to mandate the need for clean fuel, not just in Delhi but across NCR as industries outside the boundaries of the national capital are using polluting fuel.
“Also many industries in Delhi operate in non-authorised colonies and so are outside the control
of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC),” it said.
Combustion of sulphur leads to the emission of particulates and gaseous pollutants like Sulphur
Dioxide (SO2) and depending on the level of moisture in the air, gas gets converted into particles.
“These secondary particles are a key source of air pollution in Delhi/NCR. According to an IIT-Kanpur report, as much as 25-30 per cent of the winter pollution sources are secondary particles, which are emitted from vehicles, power plants and industries,” the report said.