Satyasundar Barik

Landmark ruling by chairman of the authority

Complainant free to file appeal under Air Act

Sankar Oram, former legislator, had filed appeal

BHUBANESWAR: Eco activists have reason to cheer as they can now file appeals before an appellate authority headed by a sitting High Court Judge at the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).

The Appellate Authority under the Chairmanship of Justice B. P Das, which was created under the Air Act, had so far been only taking up appeals of industries, which were aggrieved by the SPCB’s order.

Not a single appeal filed by individuals was entertained by the authority.

However, Mr. Justice Das, in his recent judgment allowed the general public to knock the door of authority.

“In case of a member of the general public ultimately who takes the burn of the air pollution wants to ventilate his grievance, in our considered opinion, should approach the board drawing its attention to the deviation, if any, in the consent conditions as well as the standards of emission laid down by the board in relation to each consent,” the three- member appellate authority said.

“If the board does not take any action on the same or the board passes an order in the same by which the complainant is aggrieved, he can file an appeal under Section 31 of the Air Act,” Mr. Justice Das said in his judgment.

The issue came to light when Sankar Oram, a former legislator, filed an appeal before the authority in connection with the pollutions caused by nine sponge iron units in his area.

However, counsel for the units had argued that Mr. Oram had no locus standi in the case.

“Since the appeal involves an important issue of the locus standi of the appellant to file the appeal and similar question is very often raised before the authority for consideration, we condone the delay in filing the appeal and proceed to decide the issue,” Mr. Justice Das observed.

Bibhu Prasad Tripathy, counsel for Mr. Oram, had submitted that in a matter like environment, which was a concern of everybody, if any violation of the conditions attached to the consent to establish or operation was made by an industry, an individual affected, there by, could be treated as ‘personal aggrieved’ and would have locus standi to file an appeal.

“The judgment could open the floodgates for activists, who have so far been raising the pollution issues in public forum but were not aware of this legal option to nail the polluting industries,” Mr. Tripathy said.

Law officer B. P Pattajoshi appeared on behalf of the SPCB before the appellate authority.

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