ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Legal and Policy Challenges

Air Quality Data Dissemination

Comprehensive air quality monitoring and its data dissemination remain the key factors that determine our ability to understand the quality of the environment in which we live. The Supreme Court’s dictum of the right to a clean environment and healthy living under Article 21 of the Constitution could also include in its ambit the right to have knowledge of the quality of air we breathe. The Central Pollution Control Board should also consider multiple policy and technological options, including adopting low-cost AQM towards better implementation of national air quality standards.

In recent years, the issue of air pollution in certain states received national and international attention, displaying seriousness of the adverse health impacts of pollution on the citizens. The issue of air pollution is not restricted to metropolitan cities, but also tier-two cities. Though health effects of air pollution are well-documented, what we see is the lax policy and regulatory mechanism in dealing with this national issue.

The Supreme Court as early as in 1985 through M C Mehta v Union of India (1985) (henceforth, M C Mehta case) has been playing a major role towards curbing air pollution ordering conversion of buses in Delhi to compressed natural gas (CNG),1 preparation of action plan for polluting cities,2 not allowing trucks that are not destined for Delhi,3 etc. However, the inordinate delay in the implementation of these orders highlights the deficiency in the regulatory mechanisms. One of the major problems in effective air pollution monitoring is inadequacy of data regarding the pollution level across cities. Without widespread adoption and use of the air quality monitoring (AQM) stations, and subsequent data gathering, appropriate measures to deal with air pollution cannot be taken scientifically and systematically. The courts have time and again highlighted the importance of continuous air pollution monitoring and data dissemination. The pollution control boards have, to a certain extent, implemented numerous programmes, but a lot remains to be done.

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Updated On : 8th Nov, 2017

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