The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday recommended to the Centre that a stipend or compensation be given to daily-wage labourers who have become unemployed as a result of the ban on construction activities to bring down the severe pollution levels in Delhi.
"Huge welfare funds are lying unused under Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act. Can there be some stipend when construction is stopped?" a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
The green panel said daily-wage workers who depend on construction sites to make a living are worst sufferers of the ban on construction activities as they have been rendered jobless.
"We have been informed that construction activity has been banned. Once construction is stopped, people involved in manual labour suffer the most. They become unemployed," the bench said.
The NGT was deliberating on the issue of air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
The tribunal said deterioration in air quality has not been caused in a single day but is the result of continuous negligence and apathy of statutory authorities in law enforcement.
It said every citizen has a fundamental right to a clean environment under the Constitution.
During the hearing, Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev, a senior official from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board and the chairman of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee were present in pursuance of an NGT order.
The chief secretary told the bench that authorities are taking strict action against those burning waste. Anybody who witnesses an incident of burning can report it directly through 'Sameer' app and action will be taken against the violators, he said.
In 2017, the tribunal had said that labourers working at construction sites should be paid their daily wages for the period the construction ban is enforced.
The then LG had lifted the ban on construction and demolition activities in the city in view of loss of income to daily-wage labourers.
The tribunal had, however, said, "Under Industrial Disputes Act and labour laws you have wide powers. Why can't you order builders to pay money to labourers in spite of stoppage of work?
"The work at construction sites has not been halted due to these people (labourers). It has been stopped because builders have caused air pollution. They must be asked to pay wages as part of corporate social responsibility," the NGT had said in 2017.