The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday lashed out at the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for not issuing orders to shut down construction and industrial activities in the national capital despite the worsening air quality.
The NGT also ordered Punjab, UP and Haryana governments to spell out the steps have they taken to prevent crop burning in the states adjacent to the national capital. The green panel directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to collect ambient air quality samples from different parts of the city and submit an analysis containing details of different pollutants, including particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10.
Making scathing remarks, the NGT asked the Delhi authorities to explain why steps were not taken to stop construction and industrial activities causing emission in the entire national capital. “Why don’t you pass directions to stop construction and industrial activities for a month? What are you waiting for? Are courts your local guardians? What are you doing to the children? Old people are not able to walk,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The tribunal also said that while people have been asked not to venture out much, “have any of the pollution monitoring bodies tested the ambient air quality indoors?”
Advocate Naginder Benipal, appearing for the Punjab Pollution Control Board, alleged that several illegal industries were operating in Delhi which were the major sources of pollution. He said that despite repeated orders from the Supreme Court and the NGT, the Delhi government has not implemented the direction and a detailed status report should be submitted to the green panel.
As the national capital reeled under heavy smog, the NGT had yesterday asked the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to explain why preventive steps were not taken to control the ‘severe’ air quality in the region. The national capital is experiencing ‘severe’ air quality under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels have breached the permissible standards by multiple times.
The CPCB has recorded ‘severe’ air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme. The tribunal was hearing a plea for immediate action against the worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR stating that it was an ‘environmental emergency’ that was affecting children and senior citizens the most. The plea said that according to a CPCB report, post Diwali, the ambient air quality of Delhi on October 17, 18 and 19 was found to be “very poor”, adding that despite elaborate orders from NGT last year, the authorities have slept over it.
Highlighting the increasing number of cars in the city, the plea filed by environment activist said it was “imperative that the government should take a view” with regards to putting a cap on vehicles to reduce air pollution. The plea has also sought direction to Delhi and the neighbouring states to file a status report with regard to the steps taken to educate people regarding waste burning and the pollution caused by it.