The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to come up with a law safeguarding public health in public places within three months.
The principal bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel while dealing with matters which have common prayer for direction to evolve standards for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), noted that “Public place means any place to which the public has access, whether as of right or not, and includes auditoriums, hotels, public waiting rooms, convention centers, public offices, shopping malls, cinema halls, educational institutions, libraries, open grounds and the like which are visited by the general public.”
During the course of the hearing, the bench took note of a relevant article, in which it was stated that toxic gases and particulate matter may be generated indoors which may adversely affect the employees working in such places and also the general public visiting there.
As per the article, the sources of indoor air pollutants can include building material, formaldehyde, volatile organic carbon, radon, asbestos, particulate matter, gaseous pollutants, biological pollutants, said the order dated April 19.
The bench also highlighted the WHO Guidelines for indoor air quality, reference is made to sources of pollutants in indoor buildings including benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, naphthalene, nitrogen dioxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, radon, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene.
It further said that Regulation need not be for domestic building as rightly pointed out by the environment ministry, observing there is no statutory bar to regulation indoor air quality under the Air Act or the EP Act and the Rules.
Accordingly, the green court was directed to form a committee of the ministries concerned –particularly the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Ministry of Health, with CPCB being the nodal agency.
“Joint Committee may hold its first meeting within one month and after deliberations work out appropriate standards and protocols for indoor air quality for safeguarding public health at Public places under the EP Act, EP Rules or the Air Act within three months. It will be open to the applicants to make their respective representations before the Committee. Based on the report of the Committee, MoEF/CPCB may issue appropriate orders under the relevant statutory provisions,” read the order.