Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding ambient air quality in the Indo-Gangetic plain, 27/03/2023

  • 27/03/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Sanjay Kumar Vs State of Uttar Pradesh & Others dated 27/03/2023.

The issue for consideration is permissibility of operation of hot mix plants at Noida beyond ‘carrying capacity’ of the ambient air of the area as per assessment of the statutory regulators – the CPCB and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, thereby adversely affecting the environment and the public health.

The court noted that the matter was considered by the court more than six years back vide NGT order dated November 23, 2016 (O.A. No. 618/2016).

Considering the status of compliance and adverse impact on air quality, the tribunal had directed sealing of all the hot mix plants. As a result, many hot mix plants shifted elsewhere.

Vide order dated November 20, 2019, the court directed that the remaining may remain sealed till compliance of norms.

The matter was further considered on September 9, 2021 in the light of a report of the joint committee, June 22, 2021 to the effect that "that supporting carrying capacity to sustain the hot mix plants in the study area was in the negative. The report, however, suggested that in view of dependence of construction activities on hot mix plant, the existing plants be continued subject to compliance of siting criteria.

A joint Committee comprising the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, District Magistrate, Prof Mukesh Khare, IIT Delhi, Prof Mukesh Sharma, IIT Kanpur and Prof Shiva Nagendran, IIT Chennai had filed its report dated January 30, 2023 to the NGT.

The report said that in view of air pollution in Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP), development activities can be only with advance technology and management interventions, particularly during October and November.

The NGT issued a set of directions which includes the following:

1. The report of the joint committee be hosted on the website of the CPCB and circulated by the CPCB to PCBs/PCCs of Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) states/UTs within a fortnight

2. The vulnerable districts mentioned in the report should be listed out as 'air quality sensitive districts' and polluting sources operating in these districts be closely monitored. Modified consent to operate (CTO) be granted in respect thereof with operational restrictions in the nature of GRAP, requiring switching over to cleaner fuel and adopting efficient air pollution control devices with a definite time frame not exceeding six months

3) MoEF&CC and CPCB should enforce requirement of cleaner fuel, switching over to efficient air pollution control technologies, enforcement of GRAP and vigilance measures to control other pollution sources like dust control, vehicular pollution and the like under the National Clean Air Program and require city and district specific action plans within six months by identified authorities/joint committees

4) MoEF&CC and CPCB need to further assess the status in different areas after review of daily and annual ambient air quality data and take remedial measures on that basis within six months.

The NGT directed the CPCB to hold a meeting with all concerned ministries, departments, states, Union Territories and other stakeholders within three months for preparing a road map for implementation of the recommendations.