Pollution in Sgr recorded beyond permissible limits; HC displeased, seeks report

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Srinagar

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has expressed displeasure over deterioration of ambient air quality in Srinagar even as it sought State’s Pollution Control Board action of plan to arrest it.

“It is clear (from the status report submitted by the PCB) that the permissible level of pollution in Srinagar, recorded at five stations, is all beyond permissible limits,” a division bench Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed while hearing a Public Interest Litigation.

Following court’s directions, the SPCB set up five new Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations at Boulevard (Dalgate), Jahangir Chowk, Parraypora), Soura and Rajbagh .

The new monitoring stations not only monitor PM10 but monitor PM2.5, more dangerous. The permissible limit for PM-10 is 100µgm/m3 and PM2.5 is 60µgm/m3.

“What is surprising is the Boulevard area shows the permissible limits by far higher. It is more surprising that the Chairman PCB as per the report is now asking for inputs, from all the stakeholders with regard to mitigate the degradation in air quality. No action plan has been submitted,” the court said, adding, “We are displeased why the air quality in Srinagar has deteriorated over the years. No steps have been taken by PCB despite duty bound to do so under various enactments.”

Subsequently, the court directed the PCB chairman to submit a report, indicating the point of action and the action taken before next date of hearing in the PIL on September 29.

The court also issued a contempt notice to Chief Engineer R&B over non-compliance of a direction for better traffic management in this summer capital of the state.

“We are constrained to issue contempt notice to CE R&B for non-compliance of directions of this court. The contempt notice be served and Chief engineer shall be personally present to answer the contempt,” the court said.

Regarding installation of intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) in Srinagar, SMC’s Commissioner said that action has been initiated in the first week of September.

By 15 September, he said, the junction of lay-out drawing for the locations for signal system would be submitted to the SMC.
In the report, the Commissioner also indicated that the agency would be starting the work on foundation work on roads in the third week of September.

The agency, the SMC commissioner stated that the entire project would be completed within a period of six months. “Updated status be submitted by commissioner before the next date of hearing,” the court said.

The initial plan, sources said, involves installing traffic violation cameras at several locations across the city to enable the traffic police to check traffic snarls especially during peak hours.
As regards paid parking zones, 2000 street parking places were identified, the court was informed.

“The detailed study is under taken by the team with the divisional Commissioner who has to take decision in the matter,” it observed, adding, “We may point out that the Srinagar has been identified as one of the smart cities. Status report be submitted by the Divisional commissioner Srinagar.”

Regarding removal of structures at Qamarwari Chowk, the court was informed that the structures have been identified by the R&B department and confirmed by SSP traffic. “The same shall be submitted to SMC and divisional Commissioner so that necessary steps can be taken with regard to acquisition for removal of these structures,” the court said.

The court was informed sealing of Batamaloo bus stand has been done and the bus stand at Parimpora has been made functional.

However the counsel appearing for the petitioner submited that this may not be the true position, following which court directed an advocate to ascertain the correct position by visiting the two bus stands and submit the report before the next date of hearing. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has been directed to provide assistance to lawyer in order to submit the report before the court.

The commissioner SMC was present and he showed photographs, indicating therein the removal of encroachments on the roads and pavements.
“He may file the further report indicating the overall picture along with photographs of the roads where the action has been taken.”

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