Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, chairman of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), said on Wednesday that India is not taking the issue of air pollution seriously.
Addressing an event in Ahmedabad in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on the occasion of World Environment Day, Goel also said that not a single state in the country is complying with garbage disposal norms.
“There are sources which are causing pollution. It may be carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, methane and sulfur oxide. These (gases) are the killers. Who is creating it? It is created by industrial emissions, burning of crop residue and burning of garbage. Dumps of garbage are mounting,” Justice Goel said.
“The world is taking it (air pollution) so seriously, we are not. I am very sorry to tell all of you that no state in the whole country is compliant with waste management rules… We need zero tolerance if air quality deteriorates beyond a point,” the NGT chairman added.
“This is a serious issue. Only the government cannot do it alone. There are garbage dumps, including in Ahmedabad…Unless states become compliant, it will remain a challenge,” he said.
Causing pollution is no less an offense than murder or rape, he said.
Citing a World Health Organisation report, Goel said air pollution is killing six lakh people in India every year, including 15,000 in Gujarat.
Rupani assured that his government will take steps to be more compliant with waste management norms.
“What Goel has pointed out is important…I want to assure him that our government is committed (to act) and will take more steps to tackle the issue,” he said.
The chief minister added that developed countries caused the most pollution in the past, and now they were expressing concern about the environment.
He also announced a Rs 2,500-crore project to lay pipelines to discharge industrial waste-water from Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Jetpur in Rajkot district deep inside the sea.
“We will lay three deep-sea pipelines to discharge treated effluent water from these three industrial clusters into the sea…We will do it as per NGT norms….Industries will bear 30 per cent of the cost while the government will bear the rest,” Rupani said.
During the event, the Gujarat government launched ‘Emission Trading Scheme’ (ETS), under which a firm which reduces emissions below the stipulated limit can sell its surplus ’emission permits’.
The government has claimed that it is the world’s first such scheme for Particulate Matter (PM) pollution.
Under the scheme, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board would set a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted. It will be allocated or sold to firms in the form of emissions permits.
The firms which need to increase the volume of emissions must buy permits from those who require fewer permits. Thus, those who pollute less will be rewarded.