Taking note of the rising air pollution in the hill state capital, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed the state government to make the Cart Road in Shimla a one-way street.
Besides, the tribunal also directed the state to levy a Rs 500 fee on vehicles coming close to the Mall road.
“Definite steps of material consequences are required to be taken at the earliest. If not taken now, the day is not far when ambient air quality of Shimla would deteriorate to an undesirable level, causing health hazards and the noise pollution would make it difficult for the residents of Shimla to live a peaceful and enjoyable life; thus, violating the Fundamental Right available to them in terms of Article 21 of the Constitution,” the tribunal ruled.
In its 13-page judgment, NGT’s principal bench comprising chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, judicial member justice MS Nambiar and expert members DK Agrawal and AR Yusuf said the state government, Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board, transport department secretary, all other authorities and corporations concerned and the director general of police should take immediate steps to strictly comply with the directions that had not being complied at all till now and other directions to the extent they had not yet been carried out as contained in earlier orders.
“It is a matter of common knowledge that air and noise pollution, particularly in the city of Shimla, is increasing by the day. Traffic congestion is one of the major contributors to such excessive pollution,” the bench ruled.
The tribunal directed the authorities to declare “silence zones” and display signboards at conspicuous places and ensure that no noise is permitted to be generated by any process, including horns.
It also directed to revise all sealed and restricted roads within three months, completely prohibiting and restricting vehicular traffic on those roads. Besides, it directed to ensure no parking on sealed roads, besides smooth traffic movement on Cart Road. The directions need to followed within three months, the bench ruled.
“Cars permitted to come to the Western Command, Post Office, High Court and other such points near and around the Mall Road in Shimla would be required to pay a sum of Rs 500 as environmental compensation on the principle of ‘Polluter Pays’,” the judgment read.