Raising serious concerns over the spike in pollution levels in the capital, the National Green Tribunal has pulled up the Centre and the AAP government for “shifting blame” and not taking steps to address the issue. Pulling up the government over the “terrible” future being handed over to the next generation, the tribunal said, “For you (authorities), the people of Delhi do not matter but for us, they matter. We will do whatever we can. Just look at what we are giving to our children for the future. This is terrible… What name we are giving to our capital in the world. It is very bad,” the tribunal 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 the 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,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar observed.
Saying that the condition was like an “emergency”, the tribunal ordered the Delhi government to stop plying of diesel vehicles more than 10 years old. “All diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old should be off the road,” it told the Delhi government. The tribunal 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, November 8.
In its defence, the Delhi government told the bench that rise in air pollution was due to burning of crop residue in the neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. It also said that two meetings were convened on Thursday to discuss the issue of air pollution in the capital. To this, the bench said, “It’s not just 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.”
The central government, in its defence, said that as per the tribunal’s order, the Chief Secretary of Delhi was to convene the meeting. To this, the bench said, “Central government is living in Delhi too. You can’t say you are not concerned with air pollution… What happened in the meeting? Who will tell us? We are asking this, but still there are no answers… Regarding health (of the people), nobody is bothered. The authorities are shifting blame on each other,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal also directed authorities to look into three other aspects of air pollution — dust, burning of plastic and waste, and uncovered construction material lying in the open. “There are three other sources of air pollution. Why do you not take steps? You know hillocks of waste are being burnt every day at landfill sites. This itself is enough to kill people of Delhi. Why don’t you fix the responsibility of the officers and take action against them,” the bench said.