Glance of Laws on Air Pollution


Air Pollution is one of the most familiar terms in today’s world. As we here the word pollution, the first thing which comes in our mind is dirt, unusual vibes, etc. Pollution are majorly of 2 types, i.e,

  1. Air Pollution
  2. Water Pollution

Today, I am going to discuss the topic Air Pollution. Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Environment Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits on certain air pollutants, including setting limits on how much can be in the air anywhere in the United States. The Clean Air Act also gives EPA the authority to limit emissions of air pollutants coming from sources like chemical plants, utilities, and steel mills. Individual states or tribes may have stronger air pollution laws, but they may not have weaker pollution limits than those set by EPA.

Similarly India also has pollution governing body namely National Green Tribunal (NGT) headed by Sir Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, this body focuses on regulating pollution.    Air Pollution is one such thing which is being suffered by every Indian, as it has grown rapidly in past 20 years specially in the developed industrial areas like New Delhi, Gurugram, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, etc. It has set up a totally polluted environment in these cities making thousands of people sick and in present it does need a proper solution. And it is necessary for it to be treated as urgently as possible for which we need to apply strict rules and regulations.

Major issues for Air Pollution have been described below:


  1. The amendments passed in European Union (EU) amid higher air pollution are how much feasible?

Currently, in the royal estate of Europe i.e. London, there developed a critical situation wherein London was only able to see the pollution around them which was answered by public at large through their strikes, revolts, etc. to pass certain amendments restricting pollution to spread anywhere. Due to this various amendments were passes.

  1. How much are the industries contributing towards the growth in air pollution?

Industries are one of the major constituents of Air Pollution as their manufacturing releases very harmful emissioned gases which can lead to someone’s death even. A strict imposition on these released gases is required specially in India as its rapid growth has sacrificed its fresh air which has led to death and sufferings of many. Thus a strict as well as absolute liability needs to be fixed on Industries.

  1. How much are the vehicles in India causing pollution?

Vehicles are the eminent contributers to pollution in India. Vehicles has now become a necessity for a family to travel, it has substantially increased pollution by 2%, which is a huge amount. Statistics show that Number of vehicles moving in Delhi is more than the total number of vehicles moving in (Mumbai+Chennai+Kolkata), This shows how much Indians have made use of vehicles. This is also one of the reasons that  World’s Most Polluted “Capital” is Delhi.

Air Pollution Amendments in EU(European Union)

The European Union (EU) aims to protect, conserve, and enhance its natural capital, turn itself into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy, and safeguard the EU’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing by 2020. In furtherance of these goals, it has introduced a variety of legislative measures to fight air pollution and improve air quality. The EU itself and its Member States have ratified the relevant international agreements on the topic. These international commitments were enacted into EU legislation. The legislation sets ambient air quality limits and target values for air quality, implements emission mitigation controls, sets caps on Member States total annual emissions of certain pollutants, sets vehicle emission standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transport, sets fuel quality standards, encourages the use of renewable fuels, establishes an emission trading scheme (ETS), sets annual national GHG emission limits for sectors not covered by the ETS, and limits industrial pollution, among other measures.

Industries contribution in Air Pollution

The role of industries in contributing towards Air Pollution has been huge and can be understood with the help of the following case law:

M.C. Mehta and others vs Union Of India

Company involved: Shriram Fertilizers

The petitioners, in this writ petition under Article 32, sought a direction for closure of the various units of Shriram Foods & Fertilizers.Industries on the ground, that they were hazardous to the community, During the proceedings of the petition, their was escape of oleum gas from one of the units of Shriram. The Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board and the Delhi Bar Association filed applications for award of compensation to the persons who had suffered harm on account of escape of oleum gas.

A Bench of three Honourable Judges, referred the applications for compensation to a larger Bench of five Judges because issues of great constitutional importance were involved. What maybe the measure of liability of an enterprise which is engaged in an hazardous or inherently dangerous industry, if by reason of an accident occurring in such industry, persons die or are injured.[1]

The verdict passed said The measure of compensation in such kind of cases must be co-related to the magnitude and capacity of the enterprise because such compensation must have a deterrent effect. The larger and prosperous the enterprise,

Greater must be the amount of compensation payable by it for the harm caused on account of an accident in carrying on of the hazardous or inherently dangerous activity by the enterprise.

Vehicles Contribution to Air Pollution

In today’s world vehicle have become one of the basic needs of human beings. The continuous growth in purchase of vehicles has led to huge amount of air pollution, which leads to poor air quality, which is also the  “biggest environmental risk to public health”. It somehow leads to approx 40,000 premature deaths per year as the government says. In many cities nitrogen oxides- which form part of the discharge from car exhausts-regularly breaches the safety levels.

Diesel vehicles produce the overwhelming majority of nitrogen oxide gases coming from roadside sources.

The government was ordered by the courts to produce a new plan to tackle illegal levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide, a form of the nitrogen oxide pollutants emitted by vehicles.

Hybrid Vehicles, who combine electric motors and petrol are not included in the sales ban.

The government has banned diesel vehicles which created a chaos in people’s life. It also comes amid growing concerns about the impact of global warming. A report by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change has warned that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are needed to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degree Celcius.

Among its recommendations, the report urges people to switch to electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.

What else is being done to reduce pollution?

Local authorities are given £200m to draw up plans to tackle particular roads dealing with high pollution. This is all part of the same package of measures from the government.

Moreover, the Indian unit of the German luxury carmaker has expressed willingness to pay the environmental cess of one percent levied on the sale of diesel cars.[2]

Mercedes-Benz and Tata Motors appeal for removal of ban on diesel vehicles

Mercedes Benz India had filed in affidavit in SC on August 8, stating that the ban had resulted in imposition of similar restriction on diesel vehicles in other states as well.

“Various courts in the country are passing orders banning the registration of new cars with diesel engines of the capacity of 2,000cc and more without even considering the fact that the apex court is seized of the matter.

In addition, Tata Motors’ appealed to the tribunal, and said that while the apex court’s orders were concerned with private vehicles, the Delhi government had banned registration of diesel commercial vehicles as well. It also stated that lack in clarity in ruling had affected sales.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz recently saw a marginal decline in sales in India during January to June 2016 about 28% of its overall sales. The ban was applicable since December 2015, which had impacted sale of all cars, especially SUV’s.

How to regulate Air Pollution?

We need to minimize the consumption of Carbon Monoxide, Ground-level Ozone, Lead, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter, and Sulfur Dioxide. The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants. EPA must designate areas as meeting (attainment) or not meeting (nonattainment) the standard.


I learned various aspects of Air Pollution prevailing in the world. I learned how much harmful air pollution is and how much its consequences can destroy one’s healthy life. I learnt about the problems faced by London which is actually being faced by the whole world but we still aren’t paying attention to it. The continuous use of these harmful gases has resulted in ozone depletion also. Companies like Shriram fertilizers create a chaos in people’s life by not taking duly care of their utensils. Regular use of vehicles has also resulted in huge amount of Air Pollution. Subsequently, India is one of those nations who stands first in the list of pollution, i.e.

  1. World’s most polluted city- Gurugram
  2. World’s most polluted capital- New Delhi

It’s a matter of great concern because continuous increase in pollution is leading to substantive growth of global warming, which is turning people’s life into hell.



Citation: 1987 AIR 1086, 1987 SCR (1) 819


Author: Arunabh Srivastava,
Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA, 2nd Year

Leave a Comment