Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has issued new directions to reduce air pollution in Mumbai and other cities of Maharashtra, especially during the festive season of Diwali. The court has cut down the hours allotted for bursting firecrackers on Diwali from three to two and has imposed strict regulations on construction activities and the transportation of debris.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a lawyer, who sought urgent measures to improve the air quality in the state, which has been deteriorating due to various factors such as vehicular emissions, industrial waste, crop burning, and firecrackers. The court noted that air pollution poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of the citizens, especially the children, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments.
The court has ordered that firecrackers can be burnt in Mumbai only between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali, instead of the earlier timing of 7 pm to 10 pm fixed by the state government. The court has also directed the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure that only green and eco-friendly firecrackers are sold and used and that the noise and smoke levels are monitored and controlled.
The court has further instructed that the construction work in Mumbai and other cities will not be stopped, but some guidelines will be followed to prevent dust and debris from polluting the air. The court has made it mandatory for the vehicles carrying construction material to be covered properly, and for the construction sites to be watered regularly. The court has also asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to submit pollution reports of 10 cities in Maharashtra every week.
The court has appointed a three-member committee to oversee the implementation of these directions and to submit weekly reports based on the daily reports of the BMC. The committee will consist of a senior officer from the MPCB, a senior officer from the BMC, and an independent expert. The committee will also suggest any further measures that may be required to improve the air quality.
The court has also imposed a ban on the transportation of debris out of the construction site till November 19, 2023. If the air quality does not improve by then, the BMC may make a decision on whether to continue the ban or not. The court has expressed hope that the state government and the BMC will work more cautiously and diligently to control the pollution and to protect the environment.