National Green Tribunal says no visible improvement in Delhi air quality, orders ‘stringent measures’

As the Delhi air quality remains in the “very poor” category, the National Green Tribunal directed central and Delhi authorities to take “stringent measures” to improve the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR.

The green panel also directed the authorities, including the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, to file a fresh action taken report by November 20, news agency PTI reported.

The directions were issued after the National Green Tribunal observed that there has been no “visible improvement” in the national capital’s air quality, the report added.

Around 9 pm on Friday, the air quality in Delhi NCR was “very poor”, with the overall air quality index in the national capital recorded at 398, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). The air quality falls in the “severe’ category when it crosses 400 AQI.

Earlier, a bench of National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava had taken suo motu cognisance of various newspaper reports about Delhi’s worsening air quality.

The bench had then issued notices to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM), PTI reported.

The bench had noted that reports were filed by the DPCC, CAQM and the Delhi government.

In a recent order, the tribunal cited a CAQM report and said the AQI was ‘very poor’ towards the end of October in the wake of highly unfavourable meteorological and climatic conditions. Keeping this in view, restrictions under Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) Stage II were “invoked proactively” on October 21.

The Centre’s GRAP for Delhi-NCR categorises actions into four stages: Stage I — Poor (AQI 201-300), Stage II — Very Poor (AQI 301-400), Stage III — Severe (AQI 401-450) and Stage IV — Severe Plus (AQI above 450).

The bench said, “The CPCB report mentions the various heads under which steps are to be taken to comprehensively manage the ambient air quality in Delhi-NCR which include air quality response system, close monitoring and ground level implementation, measures to control industrial pollution, measures to control pollution from diesel generator sets, measures for control of stubble burning, measures for control of dust emissions from construction and demolition sites and roads, AQI and public awareness and media outreach.”

It, however, added that though the CPCB suggested technical interventions to regulate and control pollution, it did not disclose the particulars regarding the extent to which such interventions were applied and what the end result was.

“Let the report in respect of the same be placed on record on or before the next date of hearing by the CPCB,” the bench said.

The bench also noted the Delhi government’s report, according to which the sources of pollution are vehicular emission, dust from roads and construction and demolition activities, open burning of dry leaves and burning of crop residue.

“Though the above agencies in their reports have taken the stand that they are taking steps to control air pollution in Delhi, the ground result is not satisfactory,” the tribunal said. It said the situation had “gone from bad to worse”.

“Hence, we are of the opinion that the concerned agencies are required to review their strategy and come out with an effective solution to ensure that the AQI in Delhi and NCR is maintained within the permissible limits,” the tribunal said.

“Since no visible improvement in the air quality has been witnessed, therefore, the respondents are directed to take stringent measures so that the air quality index in Delhi and NCR improves,” it added.

It directed the authorities concerned to file a fresh action taken report and listed the matter for further proceedings later in November.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Updated: 17 Nov 2023, 09:43 PM IST

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