UEPPCB approves state fuel policy; petcoke to be banned as fuel in state by March 2024
The Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) has approved the State Fuel Policy (SFP) in a bid to reduce air pollution in the hill state over the next few years.
SP Subudhi, member-secretary, UEPPCB, said that the Board has decided to ban the use of carbon-rich petroleum coke, or petcoke, as a source of fuel because it has been found to be one of the biggest sources of air pollution.
The Board had approved SFP in mid-June.
“The policy focuses on which fuel will be allowed as far as industries are concerned. Petroleum coke and furnace oil are likely to be banned in the state by March 2024,” said Subudhi.
Petcoke is a final solid byproduct that derives from the oil-refining process and is rich in carbon. It is also a byproduct of bitumen-based synthetic crude oil.
Petchem is an environmental concern because of its rich carbon content that leads to a spike in the emission of greenhouse gases.
Though initially, the plan was to roll out the ban of these pollutants over the next two years, the industry associations demanded relief for an additional two years because of the economic downturn induced by the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, Subudhi added.
SFP allows the use of coal, wood, pine needle, and agricultural waste.
The state government will also be promoting the use of less-polluting sources of fuel such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), piped natural gas (PNG), high-speed diesel (HSD), bio-gas, bio-fuel, refused derived fuel (RDF), etc.
The Board has asked all districts to form an environmental action plan for air, water, and solid waste management, which will be later be incorporated in a comprehensive green action plan for the hill state.
The district authorities have been tasked to find out the availability of infrastructure, ecological awareness among local people, identifying gaps and how they can be bridged.
“The ultimate goal is to become carbon neutral. There are 14 thematic areas that have been notified by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) such as air and water pollution, solid waste management, bio-medical waste management, hazardous waste, polluted river stretches, industrial pollution, among others, which will figure prominently in the state’s comprehensive action plan,” Subudhi added.