Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has ordered Morbi Industrial Green Environmental Services Co. Op. Soc. Ltd to comply with the NGT order with immediate effect and report to the board within seven days. In case of any failure to comply with the said order, the board would take stringent actions including imprisonment for a term not less than 18 months, which may be extended to six years with fine. It may be recalled here that last week NGT had ordered the closure of coal gasifiers in Morbi ceramics manufacturing industry (also read: (https://www.sawdust.online/news/environmentalists-sceptical-about-ngt-order-closing-morbi-coal-gasifiers/).
“The GPCB must initiate immediate steps for prosecution of the industries which have operated in violation of law and recover compensation for causing damage to the environment and public health. This amount may be assessed by a Committee with representatives of CPCB, GPCB and NEERI. The CPCB will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The Committee may suggest restoration plan,” NGT had told in its order.
This order will significantly impact unorganised Morbi players in the near term. However, the organised players will not be impacted much by this order as they are already using natural gas in manufacturing.
As per the GPCB order, all units operating on coal gasifiers have to be shut down with immediate effect and switch over to PNG (piped natural gas) or non-coal gasifier technology. Currently, over 400 ceramic units in Morbi operate on coal gasifiers though 90% of them do have PNG connections. These units largely deal in ceramic wall and floor tiles and soluble salt vitrified tiles, which therefore are the categories likely to be most impacted. Majority of the GVT units in Morbi are already working on PNG largely to ensure quality parameters.
The aggrieved Morbi units are expected to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court to try get an interim stay. However, the procedure may take 30-60 days.
Most of the unbranded producers are expected to be affected by the new order as they are largely dependent on coal gasifiers. Switching over to natural gas will not only increase their cost of production by 7-10% but also will increase working capital requirements with LNG billing payable every fortnightly as compared to 60 days credit on coal.