By JANJIRA PONGRAI
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority must ensure its 14,000 public buses are properly maintained and don’t release harmful black smoke and cause pollution, according to a recommended ruling by a Supreme Administrative Court judge responsible for a case filed by an environmental activist 10 years ago.
If the senior judge’s recommendation is followed, it will create a new standard in the fight against polluting buses – and air pollution.
Judge Sumet Roygulchareon said he had studied the case and found the BMTA was negligent in failing to reduce the harmful black fumes released from its public buses.
This was a cause of serious air pollution in the capital. According to the 1979 Land Transportation Act, the BMTA must take responsibility to control emission released by public buses, he noted.
ALL SIDES ALLOWED TO SPEAK
The court yesterday invited the Anti-Global Warming Association and the Foundation for Anti Air Pollution and Environmental Protection, who filed the case with the court, and representatives from the BMTA and Pollution Control Department (PCD), who were listed as defendants, to attend a statement hearing.
The session allowed the panel of judges hearing the case to consider the matter before they issue a final verdict. Final rulings rarely differ from one recommended by the judge responsible for the case.
Sumet said the Supreme Adminis-trative Court would stand by the verdict handed down earlier by the Central Administrative Court, which ruled in 2006 that the BMTA must check and reduce the pollution caused by black smoke from its buses, as well as buses operated by concessionaires.
It was also ordered to provide progress reports to the public every quarter.
The case was originally taken to the court in 2002 by Anti-Global Warming Association chairperson Srisuwan Janya, who said the state agency failed to ensure no black smoke emitted from BMTA buses and private contractors’ buses when they were driven in Bangkok.
The association also had filed a complaint against the Pollution Control Department, saying it was negligent because it failed to control air pollution caused by public buses. However, Sumet said he found that the PCD was not responsible for the mishap.
Srisuwan said the court’s final verdict over the case, to be issued in the near future, would be “the new norm” for the BMTA and other state enterprises – to strictly follow the law and control pollution that affects the environment and people’s health.
“We have been spent over 10 years to fight this case and this will be a new standard to control air pollution caused by black exhaust fumes from public buses.”
Srisuwan said he was now considering filing another lawsuit against public vans in Bangkok and nearby provinces run by private companies and vans operated by the state-owned Enterprise Transportation Company’s concessionaires, after finding that some of these vans also release black fumes into the air.
PCD general director Wichian Jungrungruang, said air pollution |in Bangkok was now drastically increasing, not only from fumes |from public buses but also from private cars.
According to PCD air pollution reports, more than 36,000 private cars and BMTA public buses were banned from the streets over the nine years from 2003 to 2011.