Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain informed the Delhi High Court Friday that the “action plan to curb air pollution in NCR” had not been created so far despite reports that the plan had been finalised after a meeting between the Environment Minister and the ministers concerned of states in the National Capital Region.
The ASG told the court that media reports of an “action plan to curb air pollution” were not correct since “no comprehensive action plan with steps for action to be taken by all stakeholders had been created so far”.
“Decisions have been taken but logistics of implementation are not there so far,” the ASG told the bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva after being asked to submit details of the action plan.
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“We are only trying to nudge the government into coming out with a plan based on scientific material,” the bench said, adding there was need for “palpable results” within a year to reduce each of the pollutants identified so far.
The court pulled up the government for failing to take trees into account. “Everyone knows if you cut trees there will be pollution. You won’t have trees, you won’t have water. Delhi will be a desert. People will die and the city will be like the ruins of Mohenjodaro in a few years,” the bench said.
The court came down heavily on the Centre after the ASG submitted a single-page “document” on the consultation held by the Minister for Environment and Forests with the state governments of NCR states UP, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan on April 6 and 13.
The “10-point action plan” given in the note was dismissed by the court as “ vague and general”.
“Congestion due to breakdown of vehicles on the roads shall be minimized, congestion due to waterlogging on the roads will also be curbed… this is very vague. You must come up with specifics,” the bench said.
Told that the next meeting scheduled for deliberations on the issue was in July, the bench said “this is not right… ASG to impress upon the Central government to come out with action plan on air pollution insofar as Delhi is concerned, by the next date of hearing.”
The next date fixed in the case is May 15.
The Centre also came under fire for filing an “incorrect” report on the extent of the tree and forest cover in Delhi.
A letter signed by the Assistant Inspector General of Forests was brought to the court’s notice. Citing the India State of Forests Report 2013, the letter stated that the total forest cover in Delhi is 176.81 sq km, while the total tree and forest cover is 297.81 sq km, which indicates an increase since 2011.
The court, however, noted that the 2009 report on the Delhi government website showed that the tree cover had actually reduced. According to the 2009 report on the website, the total tree and forest cover was over 299 sq km.
“On what basis are you saying tree cover has increased? These figures seem to be incorrect,” the court said.’
It directed the Delhi government to file a geospatial report showing distribution of forests in Delhi.