NGT | Citizens entitled to breathe in fresh air; Need for action protection of environment and public health

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Coram comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and S.P. Wangdi (Judicial Member), K. Ramakrishnan (Judicial Member) and Dr Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) while deciding an appeal held that,

“Citizens are entitled to breathe in fresh air.”

The present appeal has been filed under Section 16(g) of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 against the order passed by Environment Pollution (Pollution & Control) Authority.

Following was held by the EPCA after noting that there is need to combat pollution so as to ensure that levels of pollution can be contained:

“Ban use of diesel generator sets (other than exclusion/emergency services) in Delhi and in vicinity towns- Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon, Sonipat, Panipat, Bahadurgarh. EPCA will send a list of the exclusion and emergency services that were permitted in NCR Delhi in the last winter for the use of all State governments.”

“This measure will require you to coordinate with the State Electricity Boards and ensure special efforts are made for 24×7 electricity in these towns to avoid requirement of operating DG sets and inconvenience to public.”

The above measures were asked to be taken in view of the below stated:

“EPCA has been advised by Task Force on Graded Response Action Plan, which is chaired by the member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board that the coming period, beginning October 12, 2019 is projected to have adverse weather conditions, which will exacerbate the potential forpollution. The region is already in the ‘Moderate/poor’category in terms of air quality and, therefore, all efforts have to be made to ensure that the levels do not rise further, even with adverse weather conditions.”

The grievance of the appellant was that, there are limitations in distributing electricity in the entire area due to technical non-feasibility.

NGT noting the above, stated that Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was duly notified under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and is binding and that the impugned order is merely enforcing the GRAP, there is no illegality therein.

Adding to the above, tribunal held that,

Impugned action is an undoubted need for protection of environment and public health. If the appellant cannot supply electricity, it is for the appellant to find out ways and means within the purview of law. This cannot be ground to use DG sets in violation of air quality protection norms. Citizens are entitled to breathe in fresh air. Thus, no interference is called for. [Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam v. Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority, Appeal No. 88 of 2019, decided on 15-10-2019]

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