Shopping malls, hotels, theatres, educational institutions, office buildings and similar places with public gatherings may soon have to regulate indoor air quality for the safety of their patrons. The National Green Tribunal (NGT), by an order issued on Wednesday, set a deadline of four months for the Union government to frame indoor air quality norms and provide protocols for their regulation.
A six-member panel, headed by tribunal’s chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, underlined the absence of suitable norms pertaining to indoor air quality despite several studies highlighting presence of toxic gases and particulate matter inside buildings and their harmful effects.
The NGT referred to the WHO guidelines on indoor air quality and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research guidelines on ventilation of residential and office buildings, as it held that “substantial question of environment arises” in the matter and that “there is need for regulation of indoor air quality at public places”.
“A case is made out for a direction to evolve an appropriate mechanism by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in coordination with other concerned ministries, particularly the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Ministry of Health, with CPCB being nodal agency,” the green court said.
The court ordered that a joint committee, comprising representatives from all ministries concerned and the CPCB, should hold its first meeting within one month. “After deliberations, (the committee should) work out appropriate standards and protocols for indoor air quality for safeguarding public health at public places under the Environment (Protection) Act, Environment (Protection) Rules or the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act within 3 months.”
Representing Singh, advocate KC Mittal argued that large public buildings being thronged by people need to maintain safe and healthy air quality by appropriate regulation under the provisions of the Air Act, 1981.