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Compensation for Air Pollution: Know all about NGT’s directives here

Tulika Tandon

Why in News?

A four judged bench of NGT recently ruled that any victim of air pollution can claim compensation before the district magistrate after giving proof of the damage incurred by him due to pollution caused. The compensation can be recurred from the violators by the magistrates. It also stated that the green crackers can be burst from 11:55 PM to 12:30 AM on the occasion of Christmas and New Year with the prior permission of the magistrate. 

Key Details of the Directive issued by NGT 

  1. The NGT principal bench of NGT had directed to ensure the availability of air quality data. To achieve this at least one air quality monitoring station must be set up at every district headquarter at the earliest as asked by the tribunal.
  2. The National Green Tribunal had directed a complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers amid the outbreak of the pandemic in NCR. It was also applicable to all cities and towns where the breathing air quality was in poor or above categories.
  3. A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson also directed that only green crackers would be permitted for Christmas and New Year. People can burst them between 11:55 pm and 12:30 am but only in places where air quality was in the moderate or above categories.
  4. It also directed all district magistrates to ensure that firecrackers are not sold and that compensation from violators are recovered.

Directive regarding Compensation of Air Pollution by NGT

"The district magistrate, on a complaint or otherwise, will recover compensation from violators...Any victim of pollution, apart from other remedies, can approach the district magistrate for compensation, by showing evidence of individual damage and the person responsible for the damage such claim may be dealt with by a reasoned order."

Read | NGT announces ban on Bursting firecrackers

Pros of the directive

  1. Breathing fresh air is a fundamental right. It is violated once someone out of their purposeful deeds maligns it. This directive would put a deterrent on the violators 
  2. Since the cleanliness of the air is indirectly proportional to the spread of the coronavirus, this directive would help in controlling the spread of the virus. 
  3. Fixing accountability would help people be more careful 
  4. Air Quality Monitoring Committee would look into the implementation of the directive. They would also be responsible for monitoring the quality of air in the area.

Loopholes in the directive

  1. How will accountability be fixed? The fixing of accountability is the major loophole in the directive by NGT. The victim would need to prove that the morbidity caused by the firecrackers. It is vague in its approach as not only bursting crackers causes air pollution. 
  2. The doctors would need to issue their statements regarding the morbidity of the victim which can lead to corruption
  3. Only 219 air quality monitoring stations in 23 cities across the country. The monitoring centres are old and need revival. The central and the state agencies/ pollution control board must come together to expedite the process and repairment of the equipment that is responsible for air quality measurement.
  4. People participation in this would enhance the work of the district magistrate. The office however would need to be equipped to deal with situations like hundreds of people flocking outside his office seeking compensation. 
  5. Cost of the set up would be massively incurred on the exchequer
  6. In case a party happens to be an organization and not a person, the case would be dragged and so will the victim’s life be. However, in such a case the organization would be treated as a single entity. 
  7. Extraction of compensation may defeat the higher purpose of reducing pollution of air

What is NGT?

National Green Tribunal, NGT is a quasi-judicial, statutory body that was established on October 18, 2010. It was established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The NGT is responsible to handle environment-related disputes involving multiple issues. 

The Tribunal was a result of India's constitutional provision in Part III, Article 21 that ensures protection of life and personal liberty that assures the citizens of India their right to a healthy environment.



FAQ

What is the NGT ban?

The NGT has recently banned the bursting of firecrackers in Delhi, NCR region of India keeping in mind the air pollution caused by it.

What happens if the air quality index is above 500?

The NGT classifies this situation as hazardous. This level means that the particulate matter is more than 20 times the normal content.

What are the major indoor air pollutants?

Asbestos, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, lead and Nitrogen dioxide can be classified as the most dangerous indoor air pollutants

Is NGT Statutory body?

National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a quasi-judicial, statutory body that deals with all issues related to environment and ecology

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