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TBI Blogs: Gurgaon’s Air Quality Could See Improvement Soon, Thanks to a 9-Year-Old Girl and a Lawyer

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Gurugram/Gurgaon is the perfect example of the environmental hazards caused by rapid urbanisation of Indian metros. The city’s air pollution has reached alarming levels. But thanks to the efforts of a 9-year-old girl and a lawyer, things are about to improve.

In its fight to shake off the “most polluted city” tag, the National Capital Region (NCR) saw a ray of hope last week thanks to an excellent Order of the National Green Tribunal. The Tribunal acknowledged that unchecked construction activities in the Gurugram (Gurgaon) and Sohna area have led to rapid deterioration of air quality, causing major respiratory ailments for the young and old alike.

Acting on a petition filed on behalf of a 9-year-old girl who is a resident of Sector 67, the Tribunal came down heavily on the Gurugram and Haryana State Government officials, directing them to submit a report explaining the causes for such poor-quality air. The Bench also asked the authorities to come up with solutions to remedy the urgent situation. This comes as much-needed relief for a city constantly enveloped in thick fog and sooty dust, choking its residents.

Last year’s Diwali was perhaps the wake up call, which led people like Kush Kochgaway (the 9-year-old girl’s father) to finally do something. He was particularly peeved by the poor air quality caused by irresponsible construction activity rampant in Gurugram and Sohna.

Amidst such chaos, Mr. Kochgaway engaged Supreme Court Advocate Jai Dehadrai to set things straight.

The duo succeeded in convincing the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to pass a detailed order directing the Haryana Government and the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) to immediately submit a report on Gurgaon’s ambient air quality.

Advocate Dehadrai appeared for the applicant, a 9-year-old girl living in Gurgaon with her family for the past three years. She has been suffering from a severe respiratory illness, to the extent that she requires constant medication, observation, and intensive treatment.

Advocate Dehadrai is a practicing advocate in the Supreme Court and an expert in the field of medical negligence law. Presently, he is a Counsel with the Additional Solicitor General’s Chambers in New Delhi, and is also the Standing Counsel for the Government of Goa in matters before the Supreme Court of India, Delhi High Court, and the National Green Tribunal, among other Tribunals and Commissions.

In relation to the NGT’s orders, he said, “Residents of Gurgaon, especially the area surrounding sector 65 and 67, face a life-threatening toxic accumulation of dust, construction debris, garbage, and plastic waste, and also the stagnating raw untreated sewage from the surrounding shanties and village area.”

Having done exhaustive research for the matter, Dehadrai specifically mentioned in the petition that the intensive infrastructural development and construction by private builders and HUDA have caused unchecked accumulation of large quantity of dust due to uncovered construction sites, generating construction and demolition (C&D) waste and garbage.

Advocate Dehadrai said that the applicant’s medical condition had drastically worsened due to dust and airborne pollutants, despite various precautions.

Advocate Jai Dehadrai has a strong inclination towards cases related to the medical health of the people. Hence, he willingly took the matter to the NGT, receiving a judgment in his favour.

The state of Haryana and HSPCB now must examine the grievances of the applicant. They must also prepare a complete and comprehensive report on the ambient air quality in Gurgaon and Sohna. Further, the Pollution Control Board shall examine the causes, and consequentially take remedial measures for the same, with immediate effect.

Jai believes that the exhaustive order by the Tribunal is significant owing to the declining air quality. Appreciating the orders he said, “It is an excellent direction by the NGT. It shall bring awareness amongst people, and warn the administrators to tackle the increasing air pollution in the city.”

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