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India's Supreme Court bans petcoke in 3 states to curb air pollution

New Delhi — India's Supreme Court Tuesday banned the use of petroleum coke by industries in the northern states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh from November 1.

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The measure is aimed at reducing air pollution in India's National Capital Region which abuts the northern states. The industrial consumption of petcoke fuel is already banned in the nation's capital of New Delhi, in the center of the National Capital Region.

The Supreme Court also directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to inform Indian industries they must comply with government standards for nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxides emissions by December 31.

The court imposed a fine of Rupees 200,000 ($3,070) on the ministry for not yet acting on the directives it issued on the matter in May.

The ministry issued a draft notification Monday for nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxides standards to 21 industries that use petcoke or petcoke blended with coal as fuel, and gave them 60 days to respond.

Market sources said the ban will not impact cement kilns, which are the main consumers of petcoke in India, as they use limestone to control sulfur emissions.

India's Environment Pollution Control Authority had earlier said the unrestricted import of petcoke into India was causing severe air pollution due to its high sulfur levels.

While India produces around 12 million-13 million mt/year of petcoke, imports of the fuel have been soaring in recent years.

The country imported around 1.04 million mt of petcoke in August and 5.3 million mt over April-August, the bulk of it from the US and Saudi Arabia, according to government data.

--Sapna Dogra,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,