The Right to Clean Air Bill, 2017
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
Clean air is critical to healthy life. If the quality of air deteriorates, it poses serious health hazard to all citizens, particularly young children and the elderly. Air pollution is a serious health hazard which leads to a disturbingly large number of deaths of our citizens, jeopardizing their right to live a full and healthy life.
Air quality in large parts of the country has fallen to a point where the simple act of breathing poses a serious health hazard. National Capital Territory of Delhi, the National Capital Region, along with most parts of North India have been severely affected by air pollution. The air quality is so poor that it is many folds beyond the breathable limits, triggering a ‘Health Emergency’.
The air quality in these regions deteriorates sharply during winter, severely affecting the health of children and doing life-long damage to their lungs. Senior citizens and other citizens with low immunity carry a higher risk of lung related ailments.
The present legal and administrative framework of fighting this serious problem, which jeopardizes the lives of a large number of citizens, has not been able to make the desired impact, forcing the Governments, Courts and other forums including NGT to resort to taking ad-hoc measures which may bring some short-term relief but does not give a long-term solution. Considering the size, scope and the consequences of the problem, we need to have a sustainable Policy frame work, measurable coordinated Action Plan and a Monitoring mechanism at the top level of Governance.
Every citizen has the right to breath in clean air and hence it should be specified as a fundamental right in the Constitution of India under the Article 21. It is also the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to keeping the air we breathe to be clean, therefore it should be specified as a fundamental duty of citizens in the Constitution of India. Importantly, the State Govts should be constitutionally bound to effectively respond to the ‘Model Action Plan’ and ensure clean, breathable air quality to all its citizens.
The Bill is a Constitution Amendment Bill called ‘The Right to Clean Air Bill’ 2017 which seeks to constitute a statutory and permanent ‘National Clean Air Agency’ headed by the Prime Minister with Chief Ministers of NCT Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttrakhand as members, with an objective to formulate an sustainable ‘Model Action Plan for Sustainable Mitigation of Air Pollution’, monitor its implementation in various affected States and provide Budgetary allocations for its implementation with respect to both short-term and long-term measures. The high-level objective of the Committee is to charter the country’s course to meet healthy air quality standards within a targeted deadline.
Further, the Bill proposes to make the following amendments in the Constitution of India:-
- to insert Article 21B in Part III of the Constitution which deals with Fundamental Rights, to provide Right to clean air to every citizen of this Country ;
- to insert Article 47A in Part IV of the Constitution which deals with the Directive Principles of State Policy, so that it shall be the duty of the State to take all endeavours to provide clean air to its people; and
- to amend Clause g under Article 51A in Part IVA of the Constitution which is the Fundamental Duties, to make it a fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including the air around us.
Hence the Bill.
We are currently working on a draft version of the proposed Act ( which will be initially tabled as a Private Member’s Bill by Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda )
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