Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court recently held it as a constitutional duty of the Maharashtra government and its officials to maintain ecological balance and ensure a pollution-free city for citizens.
The high court accordingly directed the government to monitor the air and noise pollution, created by vehicles on the Bandra-Worli sea link. A bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar directed the government authorities to ensure only PUC-certified vehicles are allowed to ply on the sea link. The bench has further asked the authorities to monitor the honking of vehicles on the bridge.
“Officers who are responsible for good governance are required to discharge a number of duties diligently and any failure to do so amounts to commission of an offence. Undoubtedly, it is a duty of the government or its officers to maintain the ecological balance and ensure a pollution free city for the citizens,” observed Justice Bhatkar.
The bench was dealing with a bunch of petitions filed by various government bodies (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, etcetera), challenging the ‘process’ issued against them by the Dadar Magistrate’s court. The authorities were facing the process on a private complaint lodged by Dileep Nivetia against these authorities.
According to Nivetia, these authorities facilitated air and noise pollution in the city as they made a wrong estimation of the expected vehicles that would ply on the sea link. The initial estimate was 4000 to 5000 vehicles, which rose to approximately 40000. While dealing with the contentions, Justice Bhatkar said, “The authority cannot say no to any vehicle, which is ready to pay the necessary charges.
But entry can be refused to those vehicles who do not have PUC certificate; so also drivers who honk in excess of the permissible limit; they can both be stopped and fined.” “If at all there is air or noise pollution, then strict and compulsory PUC and honking is required to be monitored,” Justice Bhatkar ruled.
The bench, however, found that the process issued against the authorities by the Dadar Magistrate was not tenable as the correct authority to deal with the issue is the National Green Tribunal. The bench accordingly, quashed the proceedings with liberty to Nivetia to approach the NGT and highlight his case.