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Authorities' steps on air pollution woefully inadequate, says HC

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday termed as "woefully inadequate" the efforts made by the Centre as well as the authorities in the national capital to mitigate the poor air quality here.
The observation by a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva came as none of the authorities, including the city municipal bodies, were able to show they had complied with the court's urgent directions of last week to bring down the air pollution.
"Steps taken are woefully inadequate," the bench observed even as the municipal corporations and the Delhi government assured the court that they sprinkled water on the roads as ordered by it to reduce dust generation.
The court also put tough questions to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), represented by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, on the number of prosecutions it has launched for violation of construction norms, the number of teams it has for inspection and whether any penalties was provided for under the Environment Protection Act. "Where is the will (to take action)?" it asked the DPCC.
The pollution control committee told the bench that fines amounting to Rs 50,000 were levied for every violation of construction norms in the city and 25 per cent of the amount collected was remitted to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for utilisation.
The DPCC said the fines were levied on the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which had also ordered that remaining 75 per cent of the amounts collected be spent on mitigating air pollution in the city. The DPCC also informed the court that the quadrupling of parking fare in Delhi has been done away with.
Amicus curiae and senior advocate Kailash Vasdev, assiting the court, submitted that apart from the fines, over Rs 700 crore has been collected as green cess for bringing to Delhi cars of 2000 cc or larger engine capacity. The bench, thereafter, directed the authorities, including the CPCB and DPCC, to inform it about the proposed projects on which money would be spent to mitigate air pollution in Delhi.
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