11 yrs on, KSPCB helpless in tackling air pollution

11 yrs on, KSPCB helpless in tackling air pollution

Breathing toxic pollutants inside the human body and inhaling pollution as a nose smelling industrial toxins with 3D illustration elements.

Even after setting up three expert committees in the past 11 years and finding little success in addressing the deteriorating air quality, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has now set up the fourth committee at the behest of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 

Holding the first meeting of the latest committee that was formed last week, the pollution watchdog has already set the agenda for the stakeholders. 

A top KSPCB official told DH that the recently appointed committee’s agenda is more or less similar to that of the former committees. However, after the meeting last week, the KSPCB decided to apprise the NGT about its helplessness to execute the agenda and seek more powers to crack down on the polluters. 

“All the committees have come up with agendas that are similar in nature except for a few addition and deletion to contain rising incidents of pollution. However, when it comes to implementation, we have only seen minimal success,” the KSPCB official said.

Rapped by the apex court in 2003, the board had constituted the first task force to deal with the worsening air quality. In 2013, following
the Karnataka High Court’s
directions, another coordination committee was set up headed by the secretary of the Board. 

“About a year ago, we had even constituted a district level task force to look into the air pollution in non-attainment cities like Bengaluru, Davangere, Hubballi-Dharwad and Kalaburagi. The latest is the one that we constituted in November after the NGT’s diktat,” an officer revealed. 

Interestingly, all the previous committees had chalked out plans by holding several meetings and issued directions to implement those plans. However, on the ground, there seems to be hardly any change in the scenario. “Our powers are limited to issuing notices, and directing the government agencies like the transport department to initiate action. The board does not have enforcement powers,” the senior KSPCB official said. 

The previous committees had suggested regulating heavy-vehicle traffic in city limits, checking polluting vehicles like buses, trucks, penalties and restrictions on vehicle registration. 

Commenting on the implementation of previous action plans, B Basavaraaju, Principal Secretary, Transport department said, “Every wing within the department has environment units which look into issues of air pollution all through the year. Pollution certificates are must for all the vehicles and they are checked thoroughly by the authorities. We are also working with the Centre to frame a policy to scrap vehicles that are more than 20 years old.” 

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