The Centre has proposed to fix emission standards for 21 industries, including sugar and leather, using cheap but highly polluting fuel petcoke.

According to the draft gazette notification, put up the Union Environment Ministry's website, the 21 industries that use petroleum coke or its blends will have to adhere to emission standards of 600 milligrams per cubic metre for sulphur and 300 milligrams per cubic metre for nitrogen dioxide.

The standards also apply on other fuels but not on those based on natural gas or agro.

The notification came days after the apex court reprimanded the Union Environment Ministry for not setting standards for industries using the highly polluting fuel.

The apex court also banned the cheap fuel completely from November 1 in Delhi and NCR where 34 industries are using petcoke. It also slapped a fine of Rs 2 lakh on the Union Environment Ministry for failing to fix the standards as ordered in June.

There are 35 major industries including thermal power plants that use petcoke.

The new emission standards will apply to sugar, cotton textiles, composite woollen mills, synthetic rubber, pulp and paper, distilleries, leather industries, calcium carbide, carbon black, natural rubber, asbestos, caustic soda, small boilers, aluminium plants, tannery, inorganic chemical, lime kiln, glass, ceramic, foundries and re-heating furnaces industries.

After the new standards are implemented, the industries will have to either switch to cleaner fuel or invest heavily in the technologies, according to experts.

"These are pretty good standards. To meet them, these industries will have to either use cleaner fuel or use de-sulphurisation technologies which are quite expensive," Polash Mukherjee, Research associate at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), told IANS.

Petcoke is made from the residue of the petroleum refineries and contains very high volume of sulphur and other major pollutants.

Petcoke is banned across several countries.

The manufacturing of petcoke results in emission of carbon dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulhpur dioxide and traces of heavy metals, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The notification also says that industries will have to do real time online monitoring of sulphur emissions and install systems linked with pollution monitoring systems of CPCB and State Pollution Control Board.

The ministry has invited objection or suggestions from people within next 60 days when the amendments to environment protection rules come into force.

Source: October 30, 2017, Business Standard