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Court admits plea on poor air quality in Bhopal

Staff Correspondent

`Due to non-implementation of the statutory provisions'

BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday admitted a public interest litigation in the form of a writ petition drawing attention towards "deteriorating quality of air and deplorable state of traffic" in Bhopal due to non-implementation of the statutory environmental provisions by the respondent authorities.

The petition has been filed by Swapnil Verma, a II Year student of the National Law Institute, Bhopal, and was represented in the Court by Siddharth Gupta. It came up for consideration before a division bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice R.S. Jha.

The High Court has admitted the petition and issued notices to the respondent authorities -- Union of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, State of Madhya Pradesh, Departments of Environment, Food and Civil supplies and Public Distribution, State Pollution Control Board, Bhopal Collector and Superintendent of Police and the Regional Transport Authority, Bhopal. Drawing the Court's attention, the petition says that due to non-implementation of various statutory provisions a large number of mini-bus owners or those running auto-rickshaws were blatantly flouting the mandatory standards stipulated in various environmental enactments or Motor Vehicle Regulations.

There was large-scale adulteration of fuel (mixing of kerosene with petrol or diesel or it being used directly as fuel) coupled with unfair trade practices resorted to by most commercial vehicle owners, causing staggering levels of air pollution, threatening the health of the citizens, especially those living in the densely populated areas.

The petitioner has contended that he has been compelled to file the writ petition due to inaction on the part of the respondents when it came to checking the vertically rising graph of pollution levels in the State capital and in curbing the fast spreading network of black-marketers of kerosene.

The petition points out that excessive emissions are from auto-rickshaws and mini-buses that use kerosene as a principal fuel. Alternatively they were also adulterating diesel or petrol for reducing their running costs and maximising the profit margins.

Automobiles using kerosene as fuel emit sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, nitrous oxide and methane along with total organic carbon (TOC), Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, extractable organic matters, Polycyclic organic matter, formaldehyde, derivatives of complex carbon molecules, heavy metals and organic compounds beyond permissible levels.

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