Mumbai's Air Quality Has Improved But Not Satisfactory: High Court

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice G S Kulkarni asked the government to take the issue seriously, as lakhs of people continue to suffer because of the air pollution in the city.

Mumbai's Air Quality Has Improved But Not Satisfactory: High Court

Bombay High Court said the government should take this issue of air pollution seriously. (File)

Mumbai:

The air quality index (AQI) in Mumbai has improved but continues to be moderate and not satisfactory, the Bombay High Court said on Monday, while asking the Maharashtra government to come up with a comprehensive plan to find a final solution to the issue.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice G S Kulkarni asked the government to take the issue seriously, as lakhs of people continue to suffer because of the air pollution in the city.

The court took note of a news report which stated that seven project sites - road concretisation at suburban Bandra and Khar, the bullet train site at BKC, Versova-Bandra sea link project, Mumbai Metro-III, Mumbai Coastal Road and the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link - were generating a lot of dust adding to the worsening air quality.

The court noted that large mounds of construction material and rubble are reportedly left open at these sites.

The bench directed the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to conduct a joint inspection at these seven sites and immediately take requisite steps, pass orders and ensure that all the norms are followed.

"We also direct that in case the stakeholders at these sites are found to be not following or deviating from the norms, legal action may be taken by the MCGM and MPCB," the court said.

The court noted that the AQI in the city continues to be at moderate levels, which indicates that such air quality will continue to cause breathing problems for people with heart and lung ailments, children and older adults.

"The satisfactory level of AQI is 51 to 100. And therefore, a collective effort is required to be taken to bring the AQI to below 50 in the entire city," the court said.

"Anything beyond 50 is not good...it has to be brought down to below 50," it said.

The bench said a statutory body needs to be set up to address the issue regularly.

"We need to have a comprehensive plan for the entire city of Mumbai. Ultimately, you need to find a final solution or mechanism so that every six months we need not intervene," the court said, asking the government to at least start the process.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf, appearing for the government, said senior government officials were busy with the Nagpur winter assembly.

The bench then said the government should take this issue seriously.

"Are you wondering if there could be a situation more serious than this? Lakhs of people are suffering daily. Be serious now. Last eight to ten days, there is this fog.. but it is not fog," Justice Kulkarni said.

The court said the state government should consider framing some legislation mechanism along the lines of the central legislation - The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act of 2021.

The court said Saraf would take up the matter with the government and some appropriate decision be taken.

The bench also directed the MPCB and the Central Pollution Control Board to file affidavits stating how air quality is measured and if the machines are adequate.

The court said the expert committee set up by it last month will continue to monitor the situation and submit its periodical reports.

The state government will consider the suggestions made by the committee and take an appropriate decision, it said.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions along with one it had taken up on its own regarding the rising air pollution in the city.

The court said it would hear the matter further on February 6, 2024.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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