NGT sets up panel to oversee pollution check around AIIMS

The tribunal asked the AIIMS director to adopt measures to reduce air pollution within the campus and formed another panel to study of standard operating procedures are being followed

Pollution around AIIMS

New Delhi: Waking up to a petition, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set up a panel to verify if the recommendations for addressing air pollution in and around the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are being complied with in a timely manner.

A petitioner has recently approached the NGT, claiming that the relevant authorities were not taking appropriate measures to control air pollution in and around prestigious healthcare institutions, including AIIMS Delhi, which negatively affects the health of the patients, their attendants, doctors, and staff.

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Responding to the petition, the tribunal has entrusted the AIIMS director with the responsibility of adopting measures to reduce air pollution within the campus. The green bench has also formed a separate panel to study similar issues at various other government hospitals in the national capital and develop appropriate Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The NGT had in March set up a seven-member joint committee comprising various stakeholders to make recommendations for remedying the situation. The joint committee, including the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), District Forest Officer (DFO), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the AIIMS Director or nominee, and a nominee of the Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, submitted a report on July 1, which was accepted by the NGT.

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The green tribunal had emphasised the need for the suggested measures to be implemented within a specified time-frame and stressed for an environmental management plan not only for the AIIMS campus, but also for the surrounding areas, for identifying and regulating prohibited activities.

Additionally, the tribunal had formed an eight-member joint committee to address the issues outside the AIIMS campus, such as controlling traffic congestion, removing encroachments, improving road conditions, and controlling dust and other sources of pollution.

This committee, consisting of representatives from various organisations including NDMC, PWD, DDA, Delhi Police, city traffic police, AIIMS, CPCB, and DPCC, is tasked with developing an action plan based on the joint committee’s recommendations and monitoring their implementation within a specified time-frame.

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The NGT also mandated the monitoring of ambient air quality within a 500 metre radius of the AIIMS boundaries, with regulatory actions to be taken when air quality exceeds specified parameters, following the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The coordination and compliance responsibilities have been assigned to the Commissioner of Police and the AIIMS director, who will act as the nodal agency.

The NGT set deadlines for the initial meeting and subsequent reviews of the action plan. Regarding the AIIMS campus, the NGT highlighted various measures needed, including plantation, waste management, regulation of visitor footfall, control of vehicles, management of patient services, parking arrangements, provision of shuttle services, landscaping, involvement of voluntary organisations, and the preparation of an environmental management or action plan.

The green body had also recognised similar issues in other government hospitals, such as Safdarjung Hospital, situated near AIIMS, and called for the issuance of appropriate SOPs by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Union Ministry of Health.

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To address the issues of pollution on a long-term basis, the NGT formed a five-member joint committee headed by the secretary of the ministry of health, with representatives environment ministry, the ministry of urban development, the ministry of home affairs, and the CPCB. The panel has been entrusted with the task of engaging with the stakeholders, gather data on environment management plans for all sources of pollution in and around government hospitals and medical colleges, and finalise SOPs within a specified time-frame.

The NGT instructed the committee to file an action taken report within four months, highlighting the progress made in implementing the recommended measures.

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