NEW DELHI: Delhi is finally on a smog-fighting mode. On Tuesday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned all construction work in Delhi and NCR for the next 7 days to bring the smog situation in the Capital under control. The NGT also asked Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi to come up with an action plan. “What preventive, precautionary and curative measure you are taking, tell us in tomorrow’s hearing,” NGT has told all the states.
Authorities in New Delhi have started revoking licences for thousands of older diesel vehicles on Tuesday and halted construction work on the underground rail network, as air pollution remained several times over the safety limit despite easing from Monday. The measures were the latest attempt to lift a thick haze of smoke, ash and other pollutants that has blanketed the capital city of more than 17 million people for more than a week, triggering public anger.
The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear several public interest petitions from environmental groups seeking its intervention in implementing anti-pollution measures that a top environment tribunal had ordered earlier in the year. The NGT 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 tomorrow 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? 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 yesterday 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”.
With PTI inputs
Credits ET Realty