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191 Highly Polluting Industries in MMR; Bombay HC Seeks Actions

Red-category are highly polluting industries, which are refineries, large chemical companies, and thermal power plants.

191 Highly Polluting Industries in MMR; Bombay HC Seeks Actions
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The Bombay High Court (HC) was informed by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) that it has audited 191 red category industries in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The board has taken action in 28 cases, including issuing show cause notices and interim directives. 

The court called the situation "emergent" and said that equipment must be updated with new technology. It was further said that the MPCB does not need to wait for court orders to make these updates. 

The High Court had instructed the MPCB in March to begin a thorough audit of air pollution from all industries in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The initial focus was to be given to red-category industries. The audit is set to be completed within 15 months.

Red-category are highly polluting industries, which are refineries, large chemical companies, and thermal power plants.

The MPCB also reported steps to enhance monitoring of Air Quality Index (AQI) levels. The court stated that authorities need to identify pollution "hotspots" through effective monitoring to take remedial and preventive action.

Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Girish S. Kulkarni considered many pleas filed after press reports and a suo motu PIL. Senior attorney Darius Khambata, acting as amicus curiae, highlighted the impact of air pollution on the public. He also referred to a UNICEF report on air pollution-related deaths.

Khambata criticised the MPCB's response as inadequate and inconsistent with previous court directives. He also raised concerns about the sufficiency of monitoring stations in Mumbai and the clarity of whether current numbers meet central authority requirements.

Justice Kulkarni noted that pollution "hotspots" are easy to identify, mentioning the noticeable foggy air around the Bandra-Worli sea link. After reviewing the MPCB's audit reports, he questioned the effectiveness and condition of pollution control devices in industries. He called for more than just data and asked for complete assessments.

Jyoti Chavan, representing the state government, informed the court about industry-specific third-party audits initiated by the MPCB. The bench welcomed this step. A final decision on hiring individuals for audits and staffing patterns is expected by July 15.

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