Updated: March 13, 2021 10:58:19 pm
Five months after it was first set up through an ordinance brought in by the Centre, the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas stands shut with the ordinance having lapsed on Friday.
Confirming that the commission will not be operational till the time the proposed legislation is passed in Parliament, Environment Secretary RP Gupta on Saturday said that the bill to bring in the Act for the commission is pending before Cabinet.
“The bill has been sent to the Cabinet and now awaits approval. As soon as it is passed by Parliament, the Commission will continue its work. Till that time, the commission stands suspended. In the meantime, the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Board will carry on monitoring the air pollution levels, and taking measures as they have always done,’” said Gupta.
The Environment Secretary pointed out that there was no question of the commission not being set up. “A focused approach of tackling the challenge of air pollution in the NCR air shed is absolutely essential. This is not possible with just the Centre or the states — Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — carrying out mitigation measures in silos. So, the commission will be formed through an Act of Parliament,” he added.
Ordinances must be approved within six weeks of the Parliament convening or they cease to operate. Sources in the ministry said that they had expected the Bill to have been approved by the Cabinet and tabled in this Parliament session.
The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and adjoining areas to tackle pollution in the Delhi airshed came into existence after President Ram Nath Kovind promulgated the ordinance on October 28.
The move came within days of the government indicating to the Supreme Court that it was considering an institutional measure to address air pollution in the NCR.
The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA, which had been set up in 1998 to monitor air quality and pollution in the NCR after a Supreme Court directio had been dissolved to make way for the commission.
In matters of air pollution and air quality management, the newly formed commission was to supersede all existing bodies such as CPCB and even the state governments, with the commission conferred with powers to issue directions to the states.
The commission was to also coordinate efforts of state governments to curb air pollution and lay down the parameters of air quality for the region.
The commission was to have powers to restrict the setting up of industries in vulnerable areas, and will be able to conduct site inspections of industrial units. If its directions were contravened, it had the power to impose a fine of up to Rs. 1 crore and imprisonment of up to five years.
Only the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and not civil courts, was authorised to hear cases where the commission is involved.
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