Delhi HC refers IGI Airport noise issue to green panel

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday referred to National Green Tribunal (NGT) – which works directly under the Supreme Court - a batch of petitions alleging that the noise generated by aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the capital is affecting health of the residents of nearby areas.

"Considering the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, the Environment Protection Rules and Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules as also the definition of noise pollutants given in the Air (Prevention and Control) of Pollution Act, it can hardly be disputed that these petitions involve a substantial question relating to environment," said a bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain.

"If the noise level in Vasant Kunj, Brijwasan and other areas in the vicinity of Terminal-III of IGI Airport exceeds the limits laid down in the schedule, that would be substantial question relating to environment and also amounts to violation of provisions of the Environment Protection Act. Thus, these petitions fulfil the twin requirements of Section 14 of the NGT Act," the bench said.

The court's order came on public interest litigations (PILs) filed by the residents of Vasant Kunj, Bijwasan and the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), a super-specialty hospital located near the airport.

The petitioners said the government should take necessary measures to mitigate noise pollution caused by aircraft.

Seeking quashing of the government clearance to Delhi International Airport Ltd, which runs the airport, for construction of a runway at the IGI airport, the petitioners made particular reference to Runway 29, which was perhaps the worst offender.

"As a result of the thrust of the planes, patients constantly suffer from immense noise pollution created by the planes ... sleeplessness is on a regular basis. Even doctors performing surgery have complained," the hospital had said in its plea.

The hospital said the noise created by the planes is usually in the 75-94 decibel range, and is "clearly beyond the stipulated standards laid down under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000".

On 27 May 2009, DIAL had given an undertaking record that Runway 29 would be used only between 6 am and 10 pm.