Bombay High Court Orders Audit Of Industries Causing High Air Pollution

Bombay High Court Orders Audit Of Industries Causing High Air Pollution

Court prodded the govt to change 'now I am thirsty, I will dig a well' attitude; monitoring pollution should be regular affair, not a knee-jerk reaction, it said

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, March 18, 2024, 11:37 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

Monitoring of air pollution has to be a continuous effort and the state can’t have an attitude like 'now I am thirsty, I will dig a well', observed the Bombay High Court on Monday, adding that the situation in Mumbai was “emergent”. It directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to undertake an immediate audit of red category industries causing maximum pollution. Based on the level of emissions, the industries are categorised as red, orange, green and white.

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.

The state said the MPCB needs 1,310 additional staff to conduct industrial audits spanning over 15 months. To which, the court said “We have passed this direction considering the scarcity of staff. However, broader public interest and human causes such as checking air pollution levels in the city, which has a population of about 2.16 crore, needs to be remedied immediately.”

It further noted that everything was “in place on paper” as back as March 2023 for tackling the air pollution, however, the same was not implemented. The state and the MPCB will have to change its approach from remedial to preventive, it added.

Apart from the 25,000 industries in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, there are 566 ready mix plants, 66 hot mix plants and 410 stone crushers which also cause high air pollution. A bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Girish Kulkarni said that the air quality index, which may be in satisfactory category, may soon go to poor category around November when the winter sets in.

“We have laws and rules. What is required is implementation. There has to be a permanent and robust mechanism to ensure implementation,” the court said. It questioned why the situation was not improving despite there being rules and guidelines in place.

It added that the court cannot keep passing orders and a statutory body needs to be set up which can address these issues. The bench noted that earlier industries were set up outside the city limits. However, with development, residential premises have come up around these industries. The court suggested that the state consider framing a policy by which industries can be shifted to other zones.

Advocate General Birendra Safar informed that inspections of all the seven public project sites were undertaken. Certain shortcomings were found and they were asked to remedy the same immediately. The projects inspected are two road concretisation works at Bandra and Khar, the bullet train site at the BKC, Versova-Bandra Sea Link, Metro 3, coastal road and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link.

The HC has kept the matter for hearing on June 20.

Let Mumbai breathe

25,000: Industries in Mumbai Metropolitan Region

7,268: Highly polluting; fall in red category

7,841: Come under orange category

10,640: Fall in green category

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