Slamming the Centre and the Delhi government, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) questioned them on inadequate steps to tackle alarming air pollution level in the national capital.
NGT on Friday, November 4 asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to take steps to control and curb the pollution.
Reportedly, the Tribunal also summoned the Environment Secretary of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan over pollution increase in the region and asked Environment Secretaries of all the four states to submit a report on burning of agricultural residues and pollution control to the tribunal by November 8.
Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter, the tribunal had on Thursday directed Delhi Chief Secretary KK Sharma to hold a meeting urgently with all the concerned authorities.
In talks with News 18, Anil Dave, Environment Minister said that there is state of emergency in national capital. He assured that they are developing active awareness campaigns, and there would be no compromise on environment for growth. He assured of action to curb pollution in a month.
The Delhi government, meanwhile, held a meeting with scientists from CPCB and DPCC on Thursday to discuss plans to deal with the situation. Various options, including artificial measures to tame the crisis, were discussed.
“Have you done anything to prevent children from going to school, did you give advisory to public. The people have the right to breathe fresh air,” the tribunal observed while reprimanding the Delhi Government over its lacklustre response towards tackling air pollution.
In its response to the green tribunal, the Delhi government said that high air pollution is due to crop burning in neighbouring states – Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan.
Satyendar Jain, Health Minister is at the helm to review air quality, and said, “The current trend shows that air pollution peaks during night and the situation eases during day. Hence, there is no reason to close schools,” Smog levels are high every year when the season changes and it is not a one-off incident, he added.
However, it has been reported that Delhi government will on Friday request the Centre to enforce laws to regulate largescale constructions across Noida and Gurgaon.
In view of excessive pollution, NGT has asked the Delhi government to stop 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on roads in the national capital. But Centre has reportedly said, that Diesel-car ban should be dropped as it is not the only reason for pollution.
While the political debate continues, a few schools in the national capital region have declared holiday today, while some others have suspended morning assembly and asked students to wear masks, NDTV reported.
The development comes as Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to alarming levels and witnessed its worst smog situation in 17 years on Wednesday and Thursday. The situation started since Diwali night, after which official data claimed the levels of PM2.5 have increased by 62.7 per cent on Wednesday, two days after Diwali.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), PM 10 levels reached a record 500 mark on Wednesday. The city witnessed low visibility and smog throughout Wednesday evening and night. Reportedly, the reasons for this are a drop in wind speed and rise in humidity in the atmosphere. Such severe pollution levels can cause breathing problems, lung and heart diseases among many other ailments.
Earlier in the day, CSE also asked the Delhi government to issue health alerts and convey that children should stay indoors as there is a state of health emergency due to peaking air pollution.
Next date for hearing is scheduled on November 8.