The rapidly changing modern life has made the mankind dependent on fulfilment of various needs. The human greed has expanded to the extent that it fails to distinguish between the essential and non-essential requirements. In today's time most of the individuals have multifaceted requirements at the cost of nature due to uncontrolled and unwarranted usage of natural resources.
Pollution a menace
The reckless and careless usage of non-renewable sources of energy has resulted in elevated levels of pollution in the ecosystem. There has been inadequate disposal of remnants of energy resources used for purposes of industrial usage, vehicular needs, crop destruction, construction activities, burning of garbage, thermal energy, etc. Adding to the contamination of the environment are the man-made pollutants as plastic, chemicals, firecrackers, electric/ electronic equipment, radioactive/ nuclear wastes, etc.
Attributable to the aforesaid causes, the earth has now become a chocking chamber with immensely high quantities of poisonous components working towards deterioration of all life forms prevalent. Rise in pollution has caused problems such as dermatological issues, chronic respiratory disorders, cardiovascular problems, retardation of foetal growth, etc. It has also resulted in death and extinction of various species which once resided on the planet causing an ecological imbalance.
With the objective of the protection and improvement of environment, numerous legislative frameworks and policies have come up. The Environment Protection Act, 1986 has been enforced with the aim of conservation and improvement of environment was introduced along with legislations working such as Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016, Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, etc. The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 was brought forth to ensure effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection under the authority of the regulator - the National Green Tribunal.
Considering the urgency and essentiality of protection of the environment, the administrative authorities of the country has taken numerous steps, some of which are listed below:
- The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change launched Green Good Deeds campaign on February 3, 2018, with the objective to sensitise the people about climate change and global warming and to inculcate their participation in the protection of the environment.
- The Government has also unveiled a campaign to tackle plastic pollution along its 4,660 miles of coastline and will seek to make 100 national monuments litter-free on World Environment Day, 2018, based on the theme - "Beat Plastic Pollution" focussing on adoption of environment friendly substitutes.1
- In order to tackle the problem of waste management in respect to the industries involved in manufacture of plastic products, the NGT ordered for the appointment of a committee of Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee vide its order dated September 18, 2018. 2
- The Supreme Court imposed a fine of INR 500,000 to the State of Andhra Pradesh and INR 300,000 each on the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttarakhand and the Union Territory of Chandigarh on account of their failure to submit their respective State/ Union Territory solid waste management policy 3.
- The Supreme Court directed the use of cleaner fuel – Compressed Natural Gas vehicles in Delhi airport only for buses and coaches. 4
- Promoting e-safe automobile options in the Electric Vehicles, The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has exempted the requirement of any permits in order to encourage the use of vehicles which do not pollute the environment.5
- The Government is working to bring forward schemes and policies to incentivise the local production of lithium-ion batteries. 6
- Efforts are being made to modify the existing legal framework to incorporate the Electric Vehicle charging stations in residential as well as commercial complexes including parking lots.7
- With a view to encourage shared mobility in India and transportation being a subject matter of State jurisdiction, the Government is in the process of introduction of a model legislation for States to regulate and monitor the same aiming to fulfil the objectives such as decongestion of roads and incentivising pooled travel.8
- The Government of India introduced Graded Response Action Plan for implementation under different Air Quality Index categories namely, Moderate & Poor, Very Poor, Severe and Severe+ or Emergency as per National Air Quality Index. The authorities are bestowed with the responsibilities to minimize the air pollution level depending upon their respective Air Quality Index.
- Confronting the challenge of high level of air pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region raising serious concerns requiring urgent attention on Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi was launched on October 15, 2018 designed to predict extreme air pollution events and give alerts to take necessary steps as per Graded Response Action Plan. 9
- The Supreme Court has stepped forward to tackle the menace of cracker bursting on several festivals including the upcoming event of Diwali and other like occasions by its order dated October 23, 2018, whereby it permitted the use of 'green' crackers with low emission during the course of festival celebrations at restricted time intervals.10
- The Supreme Court imposed a bar on the automobile companies from manufacturing and selling vehicles that are not compliant with the Bharat Standard- VI emission standards after March 31, 2020 seeking reduction of polluting emissions.11
- The Supreme Court vide its order dated October 29, 2018, prohibited the plying of 15-year old petrol and 10-year old diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region due to the alarmingly high levels of pollution in the region.12
- Halt of all construction activities involving excavation, civil construction to remain closed in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 1, 2018 – November 10, 2018 including closure of all stone crushers, hot mix plants generating dust pollution in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 1, 2018 – November 10, 2018 has been ordered. 13
- All industries using coal and biomass as fuel (excluding thermal and waste to energy plants) are directed to be shut in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 1, 2018 – November 10, 2018.13
- Transport department and traffic police shall be required to intensify checking of polluting vehicles and control travel congestion in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 1, 2018 – November 10, 2018. 13
- Stringent monitoring including imposition of on the spot fines for visibly polluting vehicles indicative of zero tolerance towards pollution causing vehicles. 13
- Publishing of public advisory in newspapers recommending the public to reduce outdoor activities and minimise their travel using private vehicles as much as possible encouraging reliance to public transport. It shall also inform about penalties that may be imposed to penalize the pollution causing segment including industries. 13
- EPCA has warned that in the event of further dipping of pollution levels, the private vehicles would be stopped from plying. 13
- In view of depleting air quality, the Court of District Magistrate of Ghaziabad (hereinafter referred to as the "Court") has ordered suspension of all private construction activities and has instructed the sealing of any visibly polluting industries and the ones which are using fuels till November 10, 2018 considering the critical air quality recognized as 'Severe'.14 The said judicial authority also recommended the closure of seven identified polluting industries violating the green norms.
- The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has further mandated the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to regulate the Government agencies to ensure efficient control of pollution levels.14
- To reduce the increasing levels of pollution in its region, Delhi Pollution Control Committee has introduced a scheme of awarding subsidy for replacing/ conversion of coal-based tandoors with electricity/ gas-based tandoors vide its notification dated October 28, 2018.15
Working for the improvement of the surrounding environment, the administrative sector of the country has made immense contributions in the form of laws, rules, regulations, policies, schemes, strategies thus making a cleaner and heathier living space.
2 Dr. Arun Kumar Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi [Before NGT Principal Bench, New Delhi - Original Application No. 630/2018
3 In Re: Outrage as Parents End Life After Childs Dengue [SMW (C) No(s).1/2015]
4 Supreme Court Civil Appeal No.4954-4957/2018
10 SC Writ Petition (Civil) No. 728 of 2015
11 SC Writ Petition (Civil) No. 13029 of 1985
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