National Green Tribunal directs setting up of monitoring panels
National Green Tribunal on Thursday passed a slew of directions including setting up of centralised and state level monitoring committees to prepare action plans to combat pollution and asking four northern states to consider banning old diesel vehicles, in a bid to tackle environment emergencies.
Terming as “severe” levels of pollution when PM 10 and PM 2.5 are above 431 and 251 in the ambient air, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to consider banning 10 -year-old diesel vehicles from plying on the roads.
The NGT directed that every state committee should, in their first meeting, notify one district where land use of agriculture is high and make it a model district for implementing orders to stop stubble burning.
“When air pollution enters alarming or ‘severe’ levels, immediate steps are required to be taken as environmental emergency. According to experts when PM 10 and PM 2.5 are above 431 and 251 micrograms per cubic metre respectively then it is the situation of severe emergency in the ambient air,” the bench said.
In such situations, helicopters should be used to sprinkle water in the Delhi-NCR region, especially in those areas where pollution levels are in excess of the prescribed standard limits, the bench said.
Coming down heavily on states for not taking action against farmers burning farm residues, NGT asked them, particularly Punjab, to consider withdrawal of incentive including grant of free power to farmers burning crops.
“In such emergency, states shall immediately provide happy seeders or other such machines in agriculture fields for removal of agriculture residue and incentives should be provided to farmers to sell their paddy straw to biomass plants, industries and board making unit.
“All construction and demolition activities and transportation of construction material should be halted temporarily and stone crushers should be directed to shut down,” it said.
Providing breathable air to citizens is the “constitutional” obligation of the state governments, the NGT observed and directed them to install air purifiers in government schools.
“If thermal power plants, hot mix plants and brick kilns are found to be emitting pollution more than the prescribed standards during an emergency situation, they should be shut down temporarily till they reduce level of emissions,” the bench said.
“All five state governments shall start vacuum cleaning of roads to prevent dust pollution and vehicular pollution,” the bench said while asking Delhi to strictly enforce their existing order on deregistering diesel vehicles older than ten years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years.