[ecis2016.org] The National Green Tribunal has come down heavily on the Delhi government, for not filing a comprehensive action plan on ways to deal with severe air pollution in the city
A National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench headed by chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, on December 4, 2017, took exception over the failure of the AAP government to file a report on ways to deal with the severe air pollution in Delhi, despite its specific order.
During the hearing, the Delhi government said it needed more time to file the action plan, as the chief secretary and environment secretary had been recently changed.
The tribunal, however, directed the government to file the report within the next 48 hours. “Where is your action plan? Why have you not submitted it? What can we do, if you keep on changing everybody? It’s not our problem if people don’t want to stick to you. You keep on doing meetings but tell us a single action or step you have taken in the last four days, to combat air pollution,” the bench said. It said that the pollution in the city has already reached alarming levels and yet, the government was adopting a ‘lackadaisical’ approach in dealing with the situation.
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The green panel was also irked with the authorities, for conducting the third test between Sri Lanka and India, which was disrupted due to the choking smog.
The Sri Lankan cricket team had complained of poor air quality that forced India to declare their innings.
“Every newspaper has been carrying headlines that the air pollution was going to be higher this week. Still, you took no action. Even the players were playing the match, wearing masks. You should have not held the match if the air quality was so bad. Are the people of Delhi supposed to bear this?” the bench said.
The tribunal also pulled up the city government, for not introducing the odd-even car rationing scheme at this point of time when the air quality was severe.
“You want exemptions for two-wheelers but you don’t apply your mind that these 60 lakh vehicles cause the maximum pollution,” it said. It also said that despite stating before the tribunal that 4,000 buses would be introduced to decongest the city’s roads, the city government has not a single bus even after three years of assurance.
The tribunal had, on November 28, 2017, asked the AAP government and four neighbouring states – Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, to submit an action plan on tackling pollution. It had earlier directed the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and every state pollution control boards, to file ambient air quality analysis before the tribunal on a monthly basis and also put it up on their websites, to enable the concerned authority to take effective steps to control air pollution.
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