Apex court gives Centre 48 hours to deal with Delhi ‘airpocalypse’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 09, 2016


NGT too raps govt; extends construction ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to come up with a plan within 48 hours to deal with high levels of pollution and smog in the National Capital.

During a hearing of a petition filed by Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment CSE), the apex court asked the Centre to devise a plan to alert citizen about the air quality and what measures people should take, Usman Nasim, Research Associate, Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility, CSE, told BusinessLine.

The government has to apprise the Supreme Court of the plan on Thursday.

The National Green Tribunal, too, came down hard on the Centre and the Delhi government. The tribunal extended the ban on construction and demolition activities to a week. Further, it imposed a moratorium on all brick kiln and stone crusher operations for a week.

Pollution levels in the city peaked on Diwali night, October 31. Starting Monday, wind speeds picked up, bringing down emission levels marginally, though they still remained at “very unhealthy” levels.

Besides the spike in pollution levels from Diwali crackers, stubble and agricultural waste burning in neighbouring Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been blamed for the crisis. The Tribunal, too, asked the States to present a plan to implement its directives.

Environmental activist Vandana Shivasaid that the crop burning was not being practised by small farmers, who use straw to feed animals. “Only farmers from Punjab are burning straw because of introduction of dwarf varieties and combined harvesters,” she said. The solution lay in limiting the use of private vehicles in the city by improving public transport infrastructure, she added.

“It is to avoid the pollution by the rich... that a mischievous diversion is being made by blaming famers,” she said.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Anil Dave, too, claimed on Monday that only 20 per cent of the Delhi pollution can be attributed to neighbouring States. Satellite images referred to by the Tribunal, however, show otherwise.

Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu announced on Tuesday that a Green Urban Transport Scheme was being considered under which low-carbon modes, such as metro rail, non-motorised transport, would be developed in metro cities and those with population above five lakh.

The government is likely to invest₹25,000 crore for this project to begin with, an official statement said.

Published on November 09, 2016
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