The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed all state pollution control boards to install assessed air quality monitoring stations within a year and submit quarterly progress reports to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued a slew of directions on the issue of air pollution and sought first report on installation of air quality monitoring stations by April 1, 2020.
The green panel noted that the criteria to install stations has been evolved based on the population and area of the cities. Around 800 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) and 1,250 manual stations are required in addition to the existing ones.
At present, the proposal is to install 202 CAAQMS in 114 cities, out of which the process to install 152 is underway, it noted.
"All such stations should be connected to the CPCB server and data displayed at the national portal online on a 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. In default of compliance, pollution control boards will be liable to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh per month starting from January 1, 2021," the bench said.
Procurement of such equipment may preferably be through e-marketing portal of the government and the CPCB may take steps to have standards/specifications and accredited/reputed vendors notified on the said portal, the NGT said.
On the issue of Source Apportionment and Carrying Capacity study, the tribunal directed that the exercise may be completed within three months by the state pollution control boards utilising 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 liable to be paid Rs 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 NGT also said that the mechanism for shifting industrial units from residential areas may be evolved immediately.
With regard to noise pollution, the green panel sought a comprehensive report by the CPCB and warned that if the direction is not complied with, the defaulting states and Union territories will be liable to pay compensation of Rs 2 lakh per month.
"It needs to be explored by the Environment Ministry and states/UTs concerned whether a part of CAMPA funds can be utilised for special afforestation drive in 122 non-attainment cities.
"If so, further necessary action be taken and a report furnished to this tribunal by the Ministry of Environment and Forests before the next date. Apart from other steps, focused attention may be required to ensure bio-remediation of legacy waste dump sites," it said.
Expressing disapproval over the timeline to reduce air pollution, the tribunal had directed the Environment Ministry to modify the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which proposes 20-30 per cent reduction of air pollution by 2024.
Concerned over the threat posed to limited natural resources due to their overuse, the tribunal had earlier directed for assessment of carrying capacity of 102 cities, including Delhi, where air quality does not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
The concept of "carrying capacity" addresses the question as to how many people can be permitted into any area without the risk of degrading the environment there.