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What a “terrible” future are we giving to our children, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said on Friday as it castigated the Centre and AAP government for “shifting blame” and not taking steps to tackle the alarming air pollution level in Delhi, dubbed as the worst in 17 years. “For you (authorities), the people of Delhi do not matter but for us, they matter. We will do whatever we can,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said, adding “just look at what we are giving to our children for future. This is terrible”.
Terming the situation akin to that of an “emergency”, the tribunal observed that the Centre, Delhi government and other authorities were “not bothered” about the rising air pollution level and its consequences on the health of citizens of Delhi but instead “shifting the blame on each other”. Observing that “health is the only primary concern”, the bench was anguished that its order asking Delhi government to stop plying of diesel vehicles which were over 10 years old was not being implemented properly.
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“All diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old should be off the road,” it directed the Delhi government. The bench was infuriated when neither the Centre nor Delhi government was able to properly answer its queries regarding the steps needed to be taken to tackle the issue, which were supposed to have been discussed at a meeting yesterday in which Delhi’s Chief Secretary, members of Central Pollution Control Board and the Ministry of Environment and Forest and others were present.
“What name we are giving to our Capital in the world. It is very bad,” the green panel said. “We understand there is a conflict of administration between the civic agencies, Delhi government and the Centre. But you can tell us who is not doing his work. It’s unfair to people of Delhi. In everything, the authorities are just throwing off their hands. We have to do something. You cannot say that time will do it,” it said.
Delhi government told the bench that rise in air pollution was due to burning of crop residues in the neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. However, the bench said, “It’s not just the crop burning. There is no crop burning in Delhi. According to you, crop burning is in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan but nowadays there is no wind, so the smoke can’t come here from these states.”
It also issued notices to the Secretaries of Environment and Urban Development of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and directed them to remain present before it on the next date of hearing on November 8.