New Delhi opts for cleaner air, bans use of coal alternative petcoke

With a series of bans intended to improve air quality in New Delhi India's top court is cracking down on polluting fuels used by industrial factories. 

Reuters/File
Reliance Industries Ltd., a petrochemical plant in the state of Gujarat, is seen spewing smoke in Jamnagar, India. New Delhi announced a citywide ban on the use of petroleum coke.

India's top court on Tuesday banned the use of petroleum coke (petcoke), a dirtier alternative to coal, in New Delhi in a bid to clean the air in one of the world's most polluted cities.

The court, which recently banned the sale of firecrackers in the New Delhi area, also ordered a ban on the sale and use of furnace oil – another dirty refinery byproduct – in and around the capital and ordered implementation of strict emission norms by the end of December.

"It is a big win for clean air," Sunita Narain, an environmental activist and a member of a committee set up by the government which recommended the ban of such fuels around the Indian capital, told Reuters.

Petroleum coke, a dark solid composed mainly of carbon, emits 11 percent more greenhouse gases than coal, according to the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Burning it also emits several times more sulphur dioxide, which causes lung diseases and acid rain.

Annual demand for the fuel, which is more energy efficient than coal, has nearly doubled over the past four years to more than 27 million tonnes.

India tops deaths from pollution globally, according to The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, with 2.5 million Indians dying early in 2015 because of pollution.

Indian health ministry data shows that respiratory issues killed about 10 people per day in the year ended March 2017 in the National Capital Region – a rapidly urbanizing and polluted area around New Delhi that is a third the size of New York state, but houses 2.5 times more people.

The ban on the sale and use of petcoke, which will be effective from Nov. 1, could hit the country's small and medium scale industries, which employ millions of workers and operate on thin margins.

Sulphur-heavy petcoke and other cheap, highly polluting fuels such as furnace oil are widely used by cement factories, dyeing units, paper mills, brick kilns, and ceramics businesses.

Puneet Gupta, founder of online coal and petcoke marketplace CoalShastra, said "per-unit delivered energy for petcoke is much cheaper when compared to the next alternate, coal," making it attractive for buyers. Users say they also prefer the fuel over coal because of its assured supply.

Such companies say banning cheap fuel might stunt their ability to expand and hire more staff, just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to create jobs.

Petcoke demand fell in August after hurricane Harvey hit shipments from the United States, the biggest exporter to India, but analysts and traders say consumption is likely to recover and continue growing, unless there is a country-wide ban.

This story was reported by Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to New Delhi opts for cleaner air, bans use of coal alternative petcoke
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2017/1024/New-Delhi-opts-for-cleaner-air-bans-use-of-coal-alternative-petcoke
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe