New Delhi, December 6: Following a plea against illegal operation of stone crushers in Haryana’s Mahendergarh, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) held that stone crushers cannot be allowed to operate in the absence of carrying capacity in terms of air quality.

A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “Precautionary principle has to be applied having regard to impact of air pollution on health. Right of citizens to breathe fresh air cannot be denied and right of operating stone crushers cannot get preference over and above the right to life on specious plea that the stone crushers were set up as per sitting parameters allowed by the State without study of impact of the carrying capacity.”

The tribunal also directed a joint committee along with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to take steps in terms of a July 2019 order, with respect to the carrying capacity of the area and the health impact of the operation of stone crushers on the residents, The Hindu reported.

“The joint committee may go by the order of the High Court and the State government as far as sitting criteria is concerned but close illegally polluting stone crushers in terms of all other environmental norms, including the air quality [and] illegal water extraction. The joint committee may also study the health impact on the inhabitants and take remedial action” the tribunal said.

The directions came when the green panel was hearing a petition moved by petitioners Mahenra Singh and Tejpal Yadav who contended that the stone crushers were located close to plantations, reserve forests, educational institutions and in clusters.

“The area is critical or over exploited in terms of the groundwater but groundwater is being illegally extracted. There is scarcity of water even for drinking purposes. There is no proper disclosure and evaluation of the source of water for operation of the stone crushers and no steps are taken to mitigate dust and air pollution” the plea had contended.

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