Mumbai: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking directions to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Maharashtra government to curb pollution in the city and take immediate steps to enhance green cover by undertaking plantation drive of fast growing trees and plants in public spaces.
The PIL by city residents Amar Baban Tike (50), Anand Jha (44) and Sanjay Surve (39) highlighted news reports and views of experts that suggest that the high level of air pollution is a fallout of the reckless construction activity and lack of sufficient green cover in Mumbai city. This is adversely affecting residents of Mumbai, particularly children, it said.
The plea filed through advocate Prashant Pandey has sought an enquiry into the working of the Garden and Trees Department of BMC over the last 10 years and urged that its accounts be audited by an independent auditor. It has also sought details regarding the budget allotted to the Garden Department in the last 10 years and funds utilised to plant new trees in that period.
'Dream Mumbai a Forest' campaign
The petitioners run a campaign ‘Dream Mumbai a Forest’ that is aimed at enhancing urban landscapes in the city that are aesthetically pleasing, functional and enhance green surroundings for the community, by planting beautiful trees and plants.
People are falling ill and children have developed cough and lung infections because of the extreme pollution, the plea has contended, adding that a serious health crisis is looming over the city and its suburbs.
“The lack of appropriate and quality green cover in the city is a serious concern and needs to be immediately addressed as it is quite likely that in view of growing population and traffic and reckless construction activity, this may lead to a life threatening situation for residents of Mumbai city,” it said.
BMC is statutorily obligated to tackle air pollution concerns and provide adequate green cover and the civic body and its Garden & Trees Department have “miserably failed” in this, the plea stated.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that the climate crisis is accelerating at a pace like never before and warned that it is “now or never” to limit global warming to 1.5C. Several factors, including deforestation, drought, air pollution and plastic waste, exacerbate global warming. One of the most pressing environmental issues in India is air pollution, it said.
PIL highlights issue of unsafe water
The PIL also stated that around 70 per cent of surface water is estimated to be unfit for consumption. Besides affecting humans, with nearly 40 million Indians suffering from waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and hepatitis and nearly 400,000 fatalities each year, water pollution also damages crops.
The PIL also said that India has lost 10 per cent of its total tree cover, since the start of this century.
The PIL urges that the BMC commissioner and government be directed to allocate sufficient resources for immediate plantation of fast growing plants and trees to increase the green cover of Mumbai.
Advocate Pandey will mention the plea before a division bench headed by Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya on October 30 seeking urgent hearing.