The Delhi High Court on Thursday said it does not just want prevention of air pollution, but a reversal of its impact also, after it was told that pollutants once generated continue to affect the environment for years. “What about what has already come into the (environment) system every year? We don’t just want prevention, but we want a reversal also,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said to the Centre, the Delhi government, all civic bodies and pollution control authorities which were also asked to carry out pollution mapping of the national capital. The court asked the authorities to map the areas in Delhi which are the highest polluters, after it was told by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) that Anand Vihar had the highest levels leading to increase of the average ambient air quality level of the city.
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During the hearing, the bench was told that 9000 tonnes of PM 2.5 and 10,000 tonnes of PM 10, both particulate matter, were generated from burning of stubble by the state of Punjab alone during a 20-day period and these pollutants do not dissipate easily from the environment.
Terming as “alarming” the figures of particulate matter generated from one state alone during the crop-burning season, the bench said one effective way to reduce this pollutant was by having more green cover. This view was echoed by amicus curiae and senior advocate Kailash Vasdev who also suggested regulation of landfill sites and cleaning up of road and construction debris as additional measures to improve air quality.
DPCC, represented by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, claimed the reason for high pollution levels at Anand Vihar was due to the presence of a inter-state bus terminal and a railway station there, apart from the chaotic traffic situation. Taking note of the submission, the court as an “immediate short term plan” directed Delhi Traffic Police to “rectify and rationalise the traffic situation there”. Similar directions were issued to the Uttar Pradesh government to control the traffic situation in neighbouring areas of Anand Vihar which fall in that state.
DPCC, meanwhile, was asked to give average ambient air quality figures for Delhi by excluding Anand Vihar. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Public Works Department were directed to focus on Anand Vihar area and remove the roadside rubble, dust and construction debris from the area.
During the hearing, DPCC told the court that it was going to set up 20 more monitoring stations in the national capital, but it would take at least a year as bids have to be invited from abroad as there were no certified manufacturers in India which make such equipment.
The commissioners of the three municipal corporations in the city were asked to file their affidavits, indicating their action plan for management and disposal of the waste generated by the national capital, before the next date of hearing on January 12, 2017. The court said it will consider the affidavits on the next date.
It also allowed the amicus to give a presentation before the National Capital Region Planning Board, on the issue of air pollution, before it takes a concrete decision. The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it on the issue of alarming levels of air pollution in the national capital.