The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday issued a slew of directions to deal with the worsening air quality in Delhi and neighbouring states, banning construction and industrial activities and the entry of trucks as it lambasted the Delhi government and civic bodies over the situation.
“No construction activity will be carried out on structures until further orders... all industrial activities in Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) which are causing emissions will also not be allowed to carry on their functioning till November 14,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
An irked green panel also imposed a ban on the entry of diesel trucks more than 10 years old and said no vehicle from ouside or within Delhi will be permitted to transport any construction material.
The tribunal told the authorities that holding meetings, writing letters and shifting responsibility from one to the other for non-performance can hardly be made an excuse for meeting “such a bad environmental emergency”.
Noting flagrant violation of the prescribed limits of PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5, it banned construction and industrial activities causing emissions till November 14. “You (officials) go to the hospital and see what kind of trouble people are facing. You kept playing with people’s life. Right to life has been infringed with impunity by the authorities and other stakeholders who have been mere spectators to such crisis,” the Bench said.
The NGT also directed the authorities and the civic bodies to sprinkle water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
It further directed the authorities to implement Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority’s directions to improve ambient air quality while asking the civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR.
The national capital is experiencing ‘severe’ air quality under a blanket of thick haze as pollution levels have breached the permissible standards by multiple times.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recorded 'severe' air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme.
The NGT had on Wednesday lashed out at the city government and the CPCB for not issuing orders to shut down construction and industrial activities in the national capital despite the worsening air quality.
It had also ordered Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments to spell out the steps they have taken to prevent crop-burning in the states adjacent to the national capital.
The tribunal was hearing a plea for immediate action against the worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR, stating that it was an 'environmental emergency' that was affecting children and senior citizens the most.
The plea has also sought direction to Delhi and the neighbouring states to file a status report with regard to the steps taken to educate people regarding waste burning and the pollution caused by it.