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V.S. Damodaran Nair and Anr. v State Of Kerala, 1995

(V.S. Damodaran Nair and Anr. v. State of Kerala 1995 SCC Online Ker 83)


  • Whether the State of Kerala had a duty to control air pollution in the city of Cochin?
  • Whether the State of Kerala had complied with the provisions of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981?


  • Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
  • Section 19 of the Act empowers the State Government is empowered to declare any area within the State as air pollution control area.
  • Section 21 prohibits the establishment or operation of industrial plants in an air pollution control area without the previous consent of the State Board. Sections 16(2)(h) and I7(l)(g) empower the Central Board and the State Boards to lay down standards for the quality of air, standards for emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere from industrial plants and automobiles or for the discharge of any air pollutant into the atmosphere.
  • Section 22 of the Act prohibits the discharge of air pollutant in excess of the standards laid down by the State Board under Section 17.
  • Section 31-A enables the Central Board to issue directions regarding closure, prohibition or regulation of any industry.
    Sections 37, 38 and 39 provide penalties for failure to comply with the provisions of the Act.


  • The case was filed by a group of residents of Cochin who were aggrieved by the pollution caused by a number of industries in the city.
  • The industries included a fertilizer plant, a paper mill, a chemical factory, and a distillery.
  • The residents alleged that the pollution was causing serious health problems, including respiratory problems, skin diseases, and cancer.
  • A single judge bench of the Apex Court appointed the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to study the level of pollution in Cochin and to recommend measures for its control.
  • Before the final stage of NEERI’s report came into existence, two writ petitions linked with the problems involved in the larger reliefs had been filed and the Court delayed the execution of the directions passed by the learned single Judge.
  • Ultimately NEERI has filed the final report on 29.8.1990. Objections were filed by the industries in detail against the report of the NEERI.
  • The NEERI report found that the level of pollution in Cochin was far in excess of the permissible limits and that it was causing serious health problems to the residents.
  • A division bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court was constituted to preside over the resulting matter.


  • The court held that the State Government and the Pollution Control Board had failed to take adequate steps to control the air pollution in Cochin.
  • The court directed Executive Engineer, Air Pollution Control Cell of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board to monitor the implementation of the conditions imposed in the consent orders to the various industries.
  • He was also further directed to submit yearly reports on or before 31st December every year before the court.
  • The Commissioner, Corporation of Cochin, was directed to take immediate steps to maintain the open sewage canal and to prevent the dumping of the garbage in the open sewage canal by effective steps.
  • The Corporation of Cochin was directed to take urgent steps to lay down underground sewage pipes
  • Finally, the State Government was directed to take immediate steps to implement the rules regarding automobile exhaust fumes causing air pollution
  • The court further stated that the state government should implement the recommendations of NEERI for prevention of air pollution by providing green ‘belt barriers between the industrial zone and residential sectors without delay.