The National Green Tribunal today directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to strictly implement the graded response action plan to combat different levels of air pollution.
The green panel noted that a number of orders were passed by various courts on air pollution and there was a need of effective monitoring mechanism.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the CPCB to monitor the ambient air quality samples regularly on monthly basis and take appropriate action.
"We are of the view that there was a need of change in procedure laid down earlier to the effect that Graded Response Action Plan which has already been notified and further modification by the tribunal be fully implemented. The CPCB may take action in this regard and act accordingly," the bench said.
Observing that air quality in the national capital was "severe" for most of the month, the tribunal had earlier directed implementation of a graded response action plan to combat different levels of air pollution.
"The statistics clearly shows that all the time, the ambient air quality of NCT of Delhi is polluted and for most of the period of the month it is severe and above. This is the quality of air that we are providing to the people living in NCR Delhi and NCT of Delhi. It is a clear violation of their fundamental right," the NGT had said.
The tribunal said an approach which is precautionary and preventive rather than curative has to be adopted.
"Importantly, the authorities are bound to take recourse of precautionary principle and ensure decent and clean environment to the public at large, living in NCR Delhi and in fact all over the country," it said.
The tribunal said there was no dearth of laws, guidelines and directions in relation to prevention and control of pollution of the ambient air quality in Delhi. What is required is the implementation of laws and directions.
The NGT divided air pollution into four categories -- Category I (Average), II (Severe), III (Critical) and IV (Environmental Emergency).
While category I action plan would come in force when PM10 is more than 100 micrograms per cubic meter but less than 300 and PM2.5 is more than 60 but below 180, category II will be in action when PM10 is more than 300 g/m3 but less that 700 g/m3 and PM2.5 is more than 180 but below 400 g/m3.
Category III would be implemented when PM10 is more than 700 micrograms per cubic meter but below 1000 g/m3 and PM2.5 is more than 400 g/m3 but less than 600 g/m3 and environmental emergency would be termed when PM10 is above 1000 g/m3 and PM2.5 is above 600 g/m3.
While CPCB has formulated six categories, which refer to different levels of pollution -- good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor, severe and above severe -- EPCA's action plan, termed GRAP, has formulated five categories. These are severe plus or emergency, severe, very poor, moderate to poor and moderate.
NGT has sought the implementation of odd-even in the third category, but the current GRAP calls for the move at the emergency or highest stringency levels.
Terming as "critical" levels of pollution in the third category, the NGT said immediate steps, including a ban on construction and introduction of the odd-even scheme, should be implemented by the authorities.
When air pollution reaches environmental emergency levels, thermal power plants in Delhi should be shut down and sprinkling of water from the high-rise buildings should be done, the tribunal had said.
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