New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over its report on the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The report proposes a 20-30 percent reduction in air pollution by 2024.
The NGT disapproved of the report of MoEF that a Committee upon further deliberation has concluded that 20-30 percent pollutant reduction under NCAP seems realistic.
The tribunal condemned the report saying that MoEF’s view is against the constitutional mandate under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Environment Ministry told the tribunal in order to assess the impact of technological and policy interventions on air quality levels, a mid-term nationwide review with the help of identified technical experts may be conducted and targets can be updated if required.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said that the stand of the MoEF that pollution cannot be controlled except to the extent of certain percent is directly hit by the Constitutional and statutory mandate.
The right to clean air stands recognized as part of the right to life and failure to address air pollution is a denial of the right to life, the bench said.
The tribunal said the enforcement of the ‘Sustainable Development’ principle and ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ requires stern measures to be adopted to give effect to the mandate of international obligations for which the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and other laws have been enacted.
Under the NCAP, the target is to achieve norms in 10 years and reduce load to the extent of 35 percent in the first three years with a further reduction of pollution later.
It means for 10 years pollution will remain unaddressed which is a long period of tolerating violations when clean air is right to life. Further, it is not clear what type of pollutants or all pollutants will be reduced, the bench said.
It also said that Non-Attainment Cities cover cities where standards are not consecutively met for five years.
The tribunal said that NCAP for the reduction of air pollution does not fully meet the mandate of sustainable development.
Violation of laid down air pollution levels resulting in a large number of deaths and diseases need to be addressed expeditiously.
Targeted time of reduction of pollution loads needs to be reduced and planned steps need to be sternly implemented on the ground. MoEF may take further action as per law, the bench said.
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