Finally, NGT cracks whip; seeks details on implementation of directions
The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday came down heavily on Delhi and other neighbouring states for not taking steps to control stubble burning and directed them to give complete mechanism on implementation of its directions by Wednesday to curb air pollution.
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar took to task the secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh for not implementing its orders on crop burning and containing air pollution.
“What did you do when all this smog was going on and the particulate matter reached beyond prescribed limits? What steps did you take, except till yesterday (Monday)? For the first five days nobody did anything, be it the states or the Centre. Show us one thing visible to common man,” the Bench said.
The green panel also passed a slew of measures to improve the ambient air quality in the national capital including banning construction activities and operation of stone crushers and brick kilns for a week in Delhi and NCR.
During the hearing, the bench also castigated the AAP government for shutting schools without conducting any scientific study and asked how it came to the conclusion that pollution indoor was better than outdoor for children.
It also rapped Delhi government for sprinkling water through cranes instead of choppers to control dust pollution.
The Tribunal directed the municipal corporations of Delhi to depute 50 per cent of their staff to go to various sites across the city to ensure no dust pollution is caused due to construction and there is no burning of municipal solid waste.
It also asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to collect ambient air quality data for a period of one week in collaboration with Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). The NGT deferred the matter for hearing tomorrow after it was informed that the Supreme Court was also hearing the case.
The panel had lashed out at the Delhi government on Monday for not taking timely preventive steps to tackle air pollution in the capital and had asked it to sprinkle water on roads to contain dust, even by using choppers.
The Tribunal had also pulled up the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan over crop burning.
The NGT had also referred to the images released by NASA showing that crop burning was responsible was the smog in the national Capital and had asked the state governments to use their energy to implement its directions, rather than “shifting caps”.
Earlier, the Tribunal had castigated the Centre and AAP government for “shifting blame” and not taking steps to tackle the alarming pollution levels in Delhi, dubbed as the worst in 17 years.
Terming the situation as akin to an “emergency”, the NGT had observed that the Centre, Delhi government and other authorities were “not bothered” about the rising
air pollution level and its consequences on the health of citizens of Delhi but instead “shifting the blame on each other”.
Plea in Green Court for free masks to kids, senior citizens
With people thronging shops to buy masks to protect themselves from the thick smog engulfing Delhi, a lawyer on Tuesday moved the National Green Tribunal seeking directions to provide free masks to the school-going children and senior citizens to protect them from pollution.
Lawyer-cum-petitioner Vardhman Kaushik moved a plea before a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar contending that people of Delhi were increasingly being exposed to high air pollution and the most affected section was the young boys and girls in schools.
Kaushik argued in his plea that since the Delhi government has failed to implement and execute the orders of the green panel on air pollution, as a punitive measure it should provide free masks.
“In such a life-threatening scenario, the applicant humbly prays that this Tribunal should direct the concerned authorities of Delhi to provide mask to protect from air pollution to the school-going children and senior citizens since it is the primary responsibility...
“Further it is humbly submitted that this Tribunal should direct the school authorities to ensure that the children are wearing the masks to school and also using it properly,” the plea, filed through advocates Sanjay Upadhyay and Saliq Shafique, said.
Kaushik has also sought penalty on authorities for not complying with the orders of the Tribunal to curb air pollution and posing grave danger to the lives of the citizens specially the younger generation.