Wednesday, August 18, 2004

HC raps Govt. on rise in pollution

Better traffic, cleaner air on priority list

The High Court came down heavily on the government for not doing enough to check air pollution.

Castigating the Government for not initiating action to check vehicular pollution in Bangalore city, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to phase out commercial vehicles aged above 15 years.

While issuing a series of directions to the Government to protect the environment, the High Court has also directed the Government to introduce Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as fuel for commercial vehicles (both goods and transport) in the city.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice N K Jain and Justice V G Sabhahit also directed the government to evolve a scheme at the earliest, not later than 6 months, to phase out the old vehicles after giving sufficient time for the vehicle owners to replace their old vehicles. The bench has also asked the Government to give necessary breathing period for owners of transport and goods vehicles to convert their existing vehicles to CNG system.

The Bench issued the directions while disposing of the petitions filed by Karnataka Lorry Owners’ Federation, which had questioned government’s notification (issued on November 13, 2002) banning entry of old vehicles, aged above 15 years, into the Bangalore city limit.

It may be noted that the Transport department’s initiative to implement the new rules in 2002 faced opposition from truck owners across the State.
The Government, therefore, evolved a new system to brand vehicles that are 15 years and above with red mark and to obstruct such vehicles from entering the city. However, the new rules remained only paper, while all vehicles, including those branded ones, continued to ply inside the city.

Coming down heavily on the government for not implementing the directions issued by the court in 2000 to check air pollution, the judges said that the Court cannot be a mute spectator when the Government fails to discharge its duty.
Holding that the government has necessary power to issue directions to check air pollution under the Environment Act and the Air Act, the judges said that protection of environment is the primary function of the Executive.

Noticing that the impugned notification had lapsed by efflux of time as the Government failed to implement it, the judges felt that pollution in the City must have increased in the city during the past two years as the old vehicles, emitting toxic fumes, were allowed to enter the city.

However, the bench directed the authorities concerned to ascertain the facts before taking necessary measures to curb vehicle pollution to ensure the welfare of the public. The judges have also directed the government to monitor all types of vehicles at important junctions to see that they do not violate the prescribed norms for reducing air pollution.

Besides, the High Court has also directed the State to initiate steps to curb the menace of chaotic traffic in the city.


Air pollution keeps increasing in Bangalore
Government has failed to check vehicular pollution
Monitor air pollution at important junctions
Make available CNG
Phase out old vehicles
Provide sufficient time to vehicle owners


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