Cement companies cheer as SC lifts ban
Cement companies in Rajasthan have welcomed the Supreme Court order lifting the ban imposed on use of pet coke by the industry, while environmentalists have voiced concern.
The apex court on Wednesday lifted the ban imposed on pet coke and furnace oil in Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana which came into effect on November 1, 2017, and asked the government to frame guidelines on the use of pet coke.
Welcoming the decision, K C Gandhi, joint president, Shree Cement, said that he was of the opinion that petcoke doesn’t create any pollution as far as the cement making process is concerned. He said the ban had come as a surprise.
Sunil Kalani, DGM, Binani Cement, also welcomed the top court’s decision.
“With this decision, the consumers will definitely benefit and cement prices will come down,” Kalani told IANS.
However, he was anxious to know about the follow-up decision of the Environment Ministry on the verdict. “The cement plants continued their operations as there was regular coal supply. Had the supply been lower, the cement industries might have faced the blues,” he said expressing his worry.
While cement and lime industries use pet coke, thermal power plants use furnace oil.
The apex court on Wednesday also directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to come out with regulations for the sale of pet coke and fix emission standards for thermal power plants.
The top court had on October 24 banned use of pet coke and furnace oil in the three states from November 1 in view of the pollution levels in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).
Gandhi said as coal was 10-12 per cent more expensive than pet coke, cement prices had to be increased during the ban period. “But the top court decision will definitely lead to reduction in cement prices in coming days and the benefit will be passed on the end consumers,” he said.
“The cement industry uses pet coke as a raw material and not as fuel and hence it was important for us to have a regular supply of raw material,” he added.
Besides the cement industry, there are many other industries such as glass, chemical, small boilers etc which use pet coke. During the ban period, the prices of coal went up with its demand soaring, while pet coke became cheaper, hence cement prices also also shot up in these days.
Meanwhile, N.S. Enviro-Tech Laboratories and Consultant CEO N.S. Naruka said that new technologies should be used while using chemicals such as pet coke. “It is untrue to say that they don’t cause pollution. They do increase pollution and hence they should be used with filters. All parameters should be discussed on how can the environment be saved before taking any stringent decision in this reference,” Naruka told IANS.
Chairman of the Rajasthan Small Industries Corporation, Meghraj Lohiya, too welcomed the apex court decision. “We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court on lifting the ban on use of pet coke as a feedstock by the cement industry. The lime, cement and power industries will breathe easy after this decision,” he added.