The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed State Pollution Control Boards across the country to install assessed air quality monitoring stations within one year and submit quarterly progress reports to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted that according to assessments carried out, 800 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) and 1,250 manual stations are required in addition to the already existing ones.
“All such stations should be connected to the CPCB server and data displayed at the national portal online on real-time basis with AQI in public domain. The CPCB may have its own stations at such critical locations as considered necessary. All the 12 notified parameters should be duly monitored by the CAAQMS,” the Bench directed.
The green panel added that in case of non-compliance of orders, defaulting pollution control boards will be liable to pay a compensation of ₹5 lakh per month starting January 1, 2021.
Noting that afforestation is an important aspect to curb air pollution, the Bench said: “It needs to be explored by the Environment Ministry and States/UTs concerned whether a part of the CAMPA [Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management Planning Authority] funds can be utilised for special afforestation drive in 122 non-attainment cities.”
Additionally, the tribunal directed the State Pollution Control Boards to complete studies pertaining to Source Apportionment and Carrying Capacity within three months by using available data.
“SPCBs may furnish action-taken report to CPCB so that it can file an appropriate report before this tribunal. For any default, compensation will be ₹5 lakh per month after April 1, 2020. Failure may also be reflected in the ACRs of the Member Secretaries of State Pollution Control Boards,” the Bench said.
The Bench also directed: “With regard to finalisation of Emergency Response System [ERS] we are of the view that the State Disaster Management Authorities in coordination with the SPCBs and Pollution Control Committees and State units of Meteorological Departments may include emergency as part of disaster management and develop ERS accordingly which may be placed in public domain.”
While observing that the “problem of pollution remains unabated”, the Bench also said, “Mechanism for shifting industrial units from residential areas may be evolved immediately.”