For the safety of their clients, shopping malls, hotels, theatres, educational institutions, office buildings, and other public meeting places may soon be required to monitor indoor air quality.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set a four-month deadline for the Union government to design indoor air quality guidelines and propose protocols for its regulation in a decision published last week.
Multiple studies have indicated the existence of poisonous gases and particulate matter within buildings and their adverse impacts. A six-member panel led by the tribunal’s chairwoman, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, highlighted the lack of appropriate indoor air quality guidelines.
The NGT cited the World Health Organization’s guidelines on indoor air quality and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s guidelines on ventilation of residential and office buildings, claiming that the matter raises a “substantial question of the environment” and that “regulation of indoor air quality at public places is required.”
“A case is made for a direction to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to develop an appropriate mechanism in coordination with other concerned ministries, particularly the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Ministry of Health, with the CPCB serving as the nodal agency,” the green court said.
The court ordered that the first meeting of a joint committee made up of members from all relevant ministries and the CPCB be held within one month. “Within three months of deliberations, (the committee should) develop acceptable indoor air quality standards and protocols to protect public health in public spaces under the Environment (Protection) Act, Environment (Protection) Rules, or the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.”
Advocate KC Mittal, who represented Singh, contended that huge public facilities with large crowds of people require sufficient regulation under the Air Act of 1981 to ensure safe and healthy air quality.