Mumbai Air Pollution: HC Asks BMC, MPCB To Inspect 7 Major Public Projects Sites

Mumbai Air Pollution: HC Asks BMC, MPCB To Inspect 7 Major Public Projects Sites

Take action in case norms not being followed, says Bombay High Court.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, December 12, 2023, 09:32 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

Mumbai: The Bombay high court has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal (BMC) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to carry out joint inspection of seven major public projects sites in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) to check if there is compliance of air pollution control rules and regulations. 

The HC has also specified that in case any of the stakeholders at these sites is found not to be following (air pollution mitigation) norms or deviating from the norms, requisite legal action be taken. The seven sites are – Road concretisation work at St Anthony road at Bandra, Madhu park road at Khar, Bullet train site at BKC, Versova Bandra sea link project, Metro metro Rail 3 site, MTHL and Mumbai coastal road site. 

“We direct that the BMC and MPCB shall carry out a joint inspection of the seven sites and shall immediately take requite steps, pass orders and ensure that all the norms are followed at these construction sites,” said a division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor. 

The court directed joint inspection following news reports that stated that on account of construction activity undertaken at these sites, a lot of dust is being generated which adds to worsening air quality. 

The HC, on October 31, had taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the deteriorating air quality in the city and metropolitan region. 

On Monday, CJ remarked  that although steps are being taken to mitigate air pollution, enough is not being done. After going through the report submitted by court constituted  expert committee, the HC said: “What we find is that though air quality of the city has improved, however, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is  still largely at moderate level, which is an indicator that such air quality will have breathing discomfort for persons  with breathing and heart problems and also to younger and older persons.” The bench added that there needs to be a collective effort to bring AQI below 50. 

The bench took note that the MPCB had taken action and passed closure orders to industries not complying with the norms. Similarly, action has been taken by the transport department. 

Senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for NGO Vanashakti, pointed out that there were discrepancies in data available on websites of MPCB and CPCB. Besides, these only gave data with regard to AQI, which is not the only parameter to monitor air pollution. Dwarkadas said that PM2.5, PM10, SO2 and NO also need to be measured. 

As per CPCB’s guidelines, there should be 104 machines to monitor air pollution in the city, as against these,  there are only 29 in the city. 

The HC has accordingly directed senior level officers of MPCB and CPCB to file affidavits giving details as to how air pollution in the city is being measured and monitored. Affidavit shall also disclose the number of equipment/ installation available and whether they are adequate as per standard  set by CPCB.

A report was submitted in 2021  by an expert  committee composed of representatives of MPCB, MMRDA, police department, transport department, NEERI, Automotive Research of India, Society  of Indian Automotive Manufacturers, IIT- B, and one environment expert. This committee’s mandate was to examine vehicular pollution and suggest mitigating measures. However, till date no action has been taken on this report. 

The HC has asked the government to consider the report and take decision on the same within eight weeks. 

Senior advocate Milind Sathe, appearing for the BMC, informed the HC that citizens can lodge complaints in their website, helpline number 1916 and on their app. 

The HC had earlier asked Advocate General Birendra Saraf to suggest to the government to consider framing some legislative mechanism on the lines of the Central legislation for the National Capital Region for monitoring air pollution. 

Saraf informed the HC that he is taking up the matter with the government, and expects that some concrete decision shall be taken in the matter. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on February 6. 

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