SC seeks guidelines from Centre for sulphur dioxide emissions

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to establish guidelines/standards for sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions for the calciner industry.

This issue was raised before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra conducting the hearing on matter associated with pollution.

Declining to give any relief to a company associated with calciners, the court, instead, emphasized that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change should draw out standards for SO2 emission standards. Calciner and aluminium industries import pet coke for use as feedstock.

The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), appointed by the court, had expressed concern that pet coke is a highly polluting fuel and therefore, it is essential to exercise control on its import.

Senior counsel Aparajita Singh, assisting the top court as amicus curia, insisted on the Environment Ministry drawing out standards for SO2 and the counsel for Centre, also present in the courtroom, agreed with her. The calciner industry imports pet coke as feedstock and not fuel.

According to the EPCA report, the apex court order in 2018 permitted annual import of 1.4 million metric tonnes of anode grade raw pet coke (RPC) by calciner industry, was conditional on the fact that the calciners would be required to be equipped with flue gas desulphurization (FGD) system with minimum 90 per cent scrubbing efficiency, aimed at reducing sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, which is a major pollutant threatening the health of the environment.

Reportedly, India is the largest emitter of SO2 in the world, contributing more than 15 per cent of global anthropogenic emissions, according to a report published by an international NGO last month.

The EPCA report said the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has not allocated pet coke for the company's second unit located in Achutapuram, which is under development. According to it, the company had applied for 11,93,600 MT of pet coke - 7,05,600 MT for the first unit and 4,88,000 MT for its second unit. However, the DGFT has allocated 5,53,574.237 MT to the applicant.

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