The Madras High Court has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and Puducherry government to constitute an Appellate Authority under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 for the Union Territory of Puducherry within three months from the date of receipt of copy of the order.
Responding to a PIL filed by the Puducherry Environment Protection Association (PEPA), a High Court represented by Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and M Sathyanarayanan passed the order on April 11. PEPA in its petition observed that the UT did not constitute an Appellate Authority (AA) for adjudicating appeals in Air pollution as mandated by the Supreme Court, even after 15 years of issue of the order.
The SC, in its order in 1999, had directed the States to constitute an AA comprising a sitting or retired SC judge or retired or sitting HC judge and to be assisted by a vice chairman of high rank. with expertise in technical aspects of problems relating to environment.
However, the UT government’s appointment of a government officer (Joint Secretary in charge of pollution control in MOEF) in 1989 to function as an Appellate Authority and continuing with it was objected by PEPA stating that it became invalid in 1999 after the SC had passed the order.
Though the government of Puducherry constituted an AA under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974) under the chairmanship of retired High Court Judge David Annusamy in 1999, it remained nonfunctional so far. It is non-existent as no administrative set for the AA under the Act has been set up by PPCC.
With no AA for Air and the AA for water remaining defunct there remains no forum to hear appeals on decisions of PPCC under the provisions of the Act, observed PEPA.