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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Switch to green fuel financial burden, say Gurugram’s industry owners

Gurugram Chamber of Commerce has written to state pollution control body voicing concerns.

gurugram Updated: Jul 31, 2019 03:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Industrialists have made three demands from the government — cheaper supply of piped gas, analysing the economic viability of the switch, and allowing the use of biofuels for industrial purposes.
Industrialists have made three demands from the government — cheaper supply of piped gas, analysing the economic viability of the switch, and allowing the use of biofuels for industrial purposes.(HT FILE)

Owners of industrial units in Gurugram, Faridabad and other NCR districts in Haryana have raised objections against the Central Pollution Control Board’s directions to shut units which have not yet switched from traditional fuels (such as coal, husk and diesel) to piped natural gas (PNG), despite its availability.

The Gurugram Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has written to the chairman of Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), voicing its concerns.

Proprietors, who spoke to Hindustan Times, said that they have already spent lakhs on upgrading the units’ infrastructure after the Supreme Court’s ban on pet coke and furnace oil in 2017. This involved updating their boilers to run on coal instead. “We have also been asked to install emission monitoring systems and wet scrubbers, all of which come at a large capital cost,” said the proprietor of a machine parts unit in Faridabad, requesting anonymity. “Now, we are being asked to bear additional cost of up to ₹1 crore to switch to PNG. This is unfair,” he added. 

While the supply of PNG is the responsibility of the gas company, the units are expected to bear the cost of upgrading their infrastructure to work on PNG themselves. There are over 1,539 industrial units in Gurugram and Faridabad alone, ranging from machine parts to textiles to woodwork, which were to adopt PNG in lieu of traditional fuels.

Of these, only 139 have made the switch. Of 914 units in Faridabad, only 62 units have adopted PNG while another 246 are “under process”, according to data shared by the HSPCB. In Gurugram, out of more than 625 units, at least 74 units have adopted PNG, while 160 are in process. About 800 units in the state so far have been sent closure notices.

On July 20, GCCI president Vikas Jain wrote to both the HSPCB chairman and the additional chief secretary (industries and commerce), on the issue. “Configuring the existing boilers for PNG involves huge amount of money running into lakhs/crores of rupees, which the small and medium enterprises cannot afford. Moreover, the pipeline network to supply gas to all the areas is also not there,” read the letter.

R Tyagi, who owns an industrial unit in Udyog Vihar, pointed out that the cost of PNG was three times more than that of coal. “A permanent switch will increase our baseline costs substantially, and there is no support or subsidy proposed to offset this impact,” he said, adding that districts in the National Capital Region (NCR) would not be able to compete with units located outside the region.

Industry owners say they have three primary demands — cheaper supply of PNG, formalising the switch to cleaner fuel after a thorough analysis of economic viability, and allowing the use of biofuels for industrial purposes.

In December last year, at a meeting of the CPCB task force to combat air pollution in the NCR, it was decided that “all industries in Delhi-NCR, wherever gas supply is available, must shift to PNG by March 31, 2019”. This deadline was later extended to April 30.

The CPCB, on July 2 this year, had observed that “in spite of availability of PNG supply in the area, a large number of industries have not switched their operations”. The CPCB also directed the HSPCB (along with the state pollution control boards of Delhi, Rajasthan and UP) under Section 18(1)(b) of the Air (Prevention of Control and Pollution) Act, 1981, “to issue closure directions to all such industries of Delhi-NCR.”

Rajesh Garhia, senior scientist, HSPCB, said, “These actions are part of measures being taken against the impact of industries on air pollution. In certain areas, PNG is not readily available but we have given those units time as gas companies are working to make PNG available there.”

First Published: Jul 31, 2019 03:31 IST

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