Government gets ‘last opportunity’ to enforce NGT orders on air pollution

Seeks government’s views on why all diesel vehicles, older than 10 years, should not be stopped from plying.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Published: March 17, 2015 2:56 am

Angry that many of its directions were not being taken seriously by the enforcement agencies, the National Green Tribunal on Monday gave one “last opportunity” to the NCT of Delhi and its authorities to ensure compliance of its various orders to curb air pollution in Delhi.
A five-member bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the Delhi government to give its views on why all diesel vehicles, commercial or otherwise, which are older than 10 years should not be stopped from plying on the roads of Delhi.

“We are pained to note that despite our repeated persuasive and mandatory orders, the authorities concerned have not risen to the occasion for taking proper and effective steps (to curb pollution). The response lacks will and exhibits callous attitude of shifting responsibility from one to another,” the bench said in its order.

Last week, the bench had issued a showcause notice to the Delhi government, asking why the authorities and its functionaries must not be tried under law for non-compliance of the orders of the NGT. On Monday, secretary of the Public Works Department appeared before the court on behalf of the government and sought one week’s time to initiate action on all the orders.

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“Though we hardly found any justification for non-compliance of the orders and directions of the tribunal, still on the assurance given by the senior officer of the NCT of Delhi, we would grant last opportunity to the NCT of Delhi and its department and police authority to ensure the compliance of the directions contained in the various orders of the tribunal,” the bench said.

“However, it would not exempt the authorities from replying to the showcause notice issued by the tribunal,” it said, adding that “strict enforcement of environmental provisions of law” has to be ensured.

The tribunal said it had been informed by the Central Pollution Control Board that an inspection of 15 old and 12 new buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation had been carried out. While the 12 new buses were all found to be compliant with prescribed emission norms, only nine old buses passed the test. The tribunal directed that the six remaining buses “shall forthwith be taken off the roads of Delhi”.

“If these buses are found to be plying on the roads of Delhi, the CEO of DTC shall be personally responsible for consequences for violating the orders of the Tribunal,” today’s order said.

The bench said it was clear from all available scientific data that the presence of particulate matters and carbon in air needed to be curbed. It said it had directed the Delhi government to submit its view on the steps being taken towards achieving this but that had not been complied with. “We direct the compliance to be made within one week from today without default,” it said.

“We also direct the NCT Delhi to submit its view as to why all the diesel vehicles plying in Delhi which are more than 10 years old should not be taken off the roads and be not permitted from plying in the city,” it said.

On the issue of a ban on parking on roads in certain areas of the city, the NGT said the ban would continue to be in force and asked the Transport Secretary to submit a report on why proposals for multi-level parkings, which have been pending for several years, are not being implemented.

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