Pulling up official agencies for failing to curb pollution in the capital, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Wednesday directed the Delhi government to identify “critically polluted areas” so that “immediate advisories” can be issued to the public by Thursday.
From identifying diesel generators as a source of pollution to setting a deadline of December 11 for agencies to submit compliance reports, the NGT bench also issued a series of directions after noting that the Air Quality Index in all areas in Delhi “consistently” showed high pollution.
“What are you doing about creating public awareness about critically polluted areas?” asked the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.
Citing an example of the advisories that it wanted issued, the bench suggested asking children and the elderly not to come out of their homes during “high-pollution” hours.
The bench also directed the Environment Secretary of the Delhi government to meet on Wednesday evening with the Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), chief of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Director-General (Health Services) to implement its directives.
Delhi government officials later confirmed that the meeting was held at 4 pm but added that no decisions were taken because representatives from the health services and CPCB were absent.
Sources said Anand Vihar and ITO had been identified among the critically polluted areas that the committee would address.
The detailed order of NGT was not available at the time of going to press but advocate Vardhaman Kaushik, whose plea was being heard by the bench, said it had also asked the government to look into “other sources” of pollution apart from the vehicles, construction and burning of waste.
Identifying diesel generator sets as a fourth source, he said, the NGT asked the DPCC to find the number of such sets being operated in Delhi and submit a report on how many comply with emission norms.
Taking note of reports on pollution in the capital, the bench came down heavily on all agencies for the delay in filing compliance reports on directions already issued by the tribunal.
On April 7, picking up several points brought out in the ‘Death by Breath’ series, an investigation by The Indian Express on the quality of air in Delhi, the NGT had issued a fresh ban on all diesel vehicles more than 10 years old and petrol vehicles more than 15 years old from plying in the capital.
The tribunal also ordered the diversion of commercial vehicles not destined for Delhi, a ban on dumping of construction waste and constant monitoring of AQI.
On Wednesday, it ordered the heads of all departments concerned, including the secretaries of the environment and health departments, to be present when the compliance reports are submitted on December 11.
Among the other measures directed by the NGT today were:
* Data on number of diesel vehicles phased out by government departments, and whether agencies had banned purchase of such vehicles for use.
* Vacating stay order on granting No-Objection Certificates by regional transport offices to diesel vehicles more than 10 years old so that they could be phased out or sent outside Delhi.
* Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand to reply on whether the Centre had come up with a policy for financial assistance to persons to dispose of old diesel vehicles.
* Centre may consider caps on number of vehicles to be sold in Delhi every year.
* CPCB to seek information from various states and union territories on ambient air quality in their area.
* NHAI and Haryana to file reports on the status of the eastern and western peripheral expressways.
On the issue of alternative routes for commercial vehicles, the Haryana government informed the bench that 6,000-7,000 vehicles were being diverted at Panipat through alternative routes via NH-71A and NH-71.