Air Pollution In Mumbai: MPCB To Conduct Third-Party Audit Of Polluting Industries

Air Pollution In Mumbai: MPCB To Conduct Third-Party Audit Of Polluting Industries

The Bombay HC had taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the rising air pollution in the city last December. Also, a batch of petitions were filed highlighting the issue.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, June 21, 2024, 09:01 AM IST
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Mumbai air pollution | Salman Ansari

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) informed the Bombay High Court on Thursday that it has completed an audit of 191 industries of the 7,268 highly polluting industries in the state and action was initiated against 28 industries, of which 19 industries were asked to close down.

Additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan informed a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar that they have confiscated bank guarantees worth Rs 126.25 lakh from polluting industries. The board started taking action from March pursuant to high court orders.

The HC had taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the rising air pollution in the city last December. Also, a batch of petitions were filed highlighting the issue.

Amicus curiae (friend of court) Darius Khambata pointed out that the MPCB’s affidavit states it had asked the remaining industries to submit self-pollution audit reports, which most of the industries did. Besides, the board plans to conduct inspection of 10-20% of the remaining industries on a random basis.

This is contrary to the high court order which had asked MPCB to conduct audits of all the industries, physically, Khambata added.

HC Asks Clarification On Audit On All Industries

The bench then asked the MPCB to clarify why it had not conducted an audit of all the industries. “Why have you not conducted an audit physically? Please don’t confuse between physical audit and self audit (by the industries). We had asked to conduct an audit with your staff,” the bench said.

The MPCB had expressed that it is short staffed and would require more time. The court had asked to complete the audit in six months.

Chavan, however, clarified that they never said they will not conduct a physical audit. This is in addition to the physical audits by the board. “We want comprehensive continuous study,’ Chavan added.

When the bench asked how the board proposes to complete the audit of the remaining industries in three months when it could complete only 191 since March.

Chavan said these comprised big industries like the BPCL and HPCL. “If we require, we will seek more time,” Chavan said.

After going through one of the reports, the bench said it was like a checklist as it has certain equipment and has given bank guarantee. “Let us talk about the emissions also,” remarked Justice Kulkarni.

Highlighting the need for curbing the air pollution, Khambata pointed out a report prepared by Unicef which stated that 21 lakh people died in India due to air pollution, of which 1,69,000 children were under five years old.

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