AHMEDABAD : India’s largest ceramic cluster at Morbi and Wankaner has received a major blow as the National Green Tribunal, Delhi bench ( NGT ), on Wednesday ordered a shutdown of all ceramic units that run on coal gasifier. The NGT has ordered to dismantle the coal gasifiers and asked the ceramic units to switch over to LNG/PNG, if they wanted to continue their operations. This drastic measure to curb pollution is likely to cause major production disruption in the Rs 40,000-crore industry. As many as 550 out of 1,000-odd manufacturing units face closure as they are run on coal gasifiers, which NGT has now disapproved. The NGT issued the directions in response to a petition filed by a Palanpur-resident Babubhai Saini. Order will adversely impact industry: Ceramic association According to Babubhai Saini’s advocate Dhaval Barot, the tribunal has constituted a committee comprising officials of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to execute the NGT order. The committee will be headed by the former chief justice of Delhi high court, Justice B C Patel. “This committee will also evaluate the environmental damage inflicted by coal-run ceramic industries and finalize quantum of penalty to be recovered from these units,” Saini added. The NGT’s order follows the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) report submitted to the NGT in February 2018 which flagged coal gasifiers as major air and water pollutants in the region. The report stated that recommendations for modification of coal gasifiers and zero discharge were not being fulfilled and it was not possible to keep a day-to-day check on the industry. “All type B coal gasifiers should be shut down immediately and dismantled irrespective of whether it is complying with the consent condition or not. The plant premises should be cleared of wastewater and tar, else it should be considered as violation,” the report said. Reacting to the NGT order, president of Morbi Ceramic Association Nilesh Jetparia said the order will adversely impact the industry which is already facing stiff competition from China. The association would challenge the order in the apex court. Jetparia said that the association would challenge the NGT order in the Apex court.”Currently our prices are on par with China in the international market. Switching fuel from coal to gas will escalate our production cost by 10%”. The ceramic industry in Morbi gives direct or indirect employment to estimated 4 lakh people. It supports over 2,000 auxiliary industries, including paper mills, packaging and engineering workshops and ceramic machinery factories. Presently, the ceramic industry is facing challenges of anti-dumping duty from gulf countries. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic union of Arab states has initiated the process to impose anti-dumping duty on Indian tiles. The annual exports from the ceramic industry of Morbi is about Rs.12,000 crore of which a major part is to Gulf countries. Earlier also, the Morbi ceramic industrial cluster found itself in trouble due to judicial orders from Gujarat high court. The expert committees formed on HC orders made several recommendations to reduce pollution in the past.