The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that a statewide committee will be constituted by Friday (June 25) to address the issue of rising air pollution owing to increase in instances of cremation following deaths due to COVID-19. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni made the submission before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by six housing societies in Pune, highlighting the rise in air pollution due to the increase in the number of cremations at a nearby crematorium because of COVID-19 deaths. When the hearing began, the petitioners’ counsels, Asim Sarode and Ajinkya Udane, told the HC that the Pune Municipal Corporation or the state government was yet to take concrete steps to address the issue.
At this, the bench reminded the state authorities that it had passed an order on May 27 directing that immediate steps be taken to resolve the matter. The HC had at the time directed the state government to nominate officials from the department of health and set up a committee to place on record the mechanism it intends to deploy in crematoriums all over the state and to come out with a final policy.
“Have you seen the amount of pollution released from the crematoriums?" the HC asked on Thursday. “Read our May 27 order," it added. Kumbhakoni then sought some time to speak to the state urban development department. He then came back to the bench, saying a committee would be constituted to look into the issue of pollution from crematoriums.
“I have spoken to the state authorities, including the secretary, UD department. A statewide committee will be constituted by tomorrow (June 25) to look into the issue," he said. The court accepted Kumbhakoni’s statement and posted the matter for further hearing on June 29.