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Hazards of Coke- Policy Brief

As the air pollution crisis deepens in India, it is important to focus on sources of pollution. Though the focus is on the major sources of pollution, there is always a need to identify some of specific sources of pollution which cumulatively add to the pollution load, either locally or at a regional basis. This focus is important given the fact that unless an industry-specific action plan is developed, it may not be possible to deal with the pollution problem holistically. The coke oven plants are one such activity which today one of the major causes of air pollution in the regions where they are located. The clandestine operation of the industry, together with lax enforcement have led to mushrooming of coke oven plants in specific regions in the country. Areas where coking coal units operate are today characterized by high levels of pollution. High levels of air pollution were unknown in high rainfall areas such as in Assam and Meghalaya, however, specific areas figure in the list of critically polluted areas which correlate to coke oven units. Both governmental and civil society efforts have failed to focus on the need for stricter control over the operation of coke oven plants. There is a clear need to ensure that the emissions standards for coke oven comply with internationally acceptable standards. The lack of finances and technical constraints should not be a reason for the lack of effective regulation. Environmental groups as well as larger civil society have focussed on coal mining and its environmental and social impact. In comparison, the focus on where the coal is utilised has not received the desired attention. This paper focuses on the coke oven industry and the need for stricter regulation and enforcement so as to reduce its pollution footprint.