The National Green Tribunal has directed automobile manufacturers to provide information to consumers about the sound level of vehicles at the time of sale as noise pollution is posing a serious threat to the health of the people.
It also directed Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to notify the noise emission standards for vehicles at the manufacturing stage and thereafter issue necessary directions under Section 20 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, to the concerned authorities for enforcement of such standards.
The NGT said that information about sound emissions due to the automobile to consumers and public authorities has the potential to influence purchasing decisions and accelerate the transition to a quieter vehicle fleet.
“Accordingly, we hold that the automobile manufacturers should provide information on sound levels of vehicles at the point of sale and in technical promotional material, providing information to the consumers about the sound emissions of a vehicle and also the horns based on Precautionary Principle,” the tribunal said.
A bench comprising Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Siddhanta Das also said that only those vehicles that carry valid Pollution Under Control Certificate (PUC) issued by the authorized agency are permitted to ply in Maharashtra so as to prevent air pollution due to vehicles.
“We would like to lay emphasis on fact that increasing noise levels in the urban areas, is posing a serious threat to the health of the people in general and especially to the children and old, in particular,” the bench said.
The tribunal also directed the authorities to record the PUC data only so to automatically linked with the Central Server with uniform standardized software and introduce annual third-party inspection of PUC centers.
“To limit the number of PUC centers upgrade them under strong supervision and quality control. To ensure 100 percent compliance by linking annual vehicle insurance and vehicle registration with PUC certificate,” the bench said.
While asking the transport department to strengthen the inspection of PUC centers for quality control and licensing program, the NGT directed it to make a quality audit of centers and calibration quarterly and upgrade testing centers for a high level of automatic emission testing so that operators and vehicles drivers are prevented from manipulation of results.
The NGT said it is admitted fact that automobiles, due to its engine noise, contribute significantly to ambient noise levels in urban areas and various reports available in the public domain, record that ambient noise levels in most of urban areas in the country are exceeding the ambient noise level standards as set out in the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
“Noise pollution is a significant environmental problem in many urban areas. This problem has not been adequately addressed and remedied despite the fact that it is growing in developing countries,” the bench said.
The tribunal’s direction came on a plea filed by advocate Dileep B Nevatia against the violation of The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, caused due to complete neglect and apathy on part of the authorities.
The plea said the authorities have failed to ensure that only those vehicles that carry valid PUC certificate issued by the authorized agency are permitted to ply in Maharashtra and thereby adversely affecting the health and lives of millions of people.
The applicant claimed that he came to know recently that authorities are neither monitoring the noise levels of constructed vehicles at the manufacturing stage nor they are ensuring compliance of noise limits by these vehicles.