New Delhi: On December 3, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped a fine of Rs 25 crore on the Delhi government for failing to curb the city’s air pollution. The amount is to be deducted directly from the salaries of government officials and deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), according to the Indian Express.
The NGT also said that failing to pay the fine within the stipulated time would result in a further penalty of Rs 10 crore per month.
A bench headed by tribunal chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar also directed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to furnish a Rs-25-crore performance guarantee with the CPCB. This is a means to ensure the government takes definitive steps to fighting air pollution.
This order follows on the heels of a Supreme Court directive to the CPCB to prosecute government officials who failed to respond to more than 250 complaints from citizens about Delhi’s deteriorating air quality. A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed this order last month to the errant officials “realise what they have done”.
In an affidavit, the CPCB said that 52 teams of personnel had attended to 500 of the 749 complaints received by the board till November 22 as part of its clean air campaign in Delhi.
Bhure Lal, chairperson of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), also chastised Delhi’s civic and urban bodies for passing the buck. Alleging that these bodies have remained “dormant,” Lal said that the Delhi Development Authority and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi are not “properly implementing” the tribunal’s orders.
Ironically, the EPCA itself has been accused of adopting a gentle approach when dealing with offenders, despite having been specifically empowered to take strict action.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s air quality continues to oscillate between “poor” and “very poor” categories during the day. Authorities have predicted a further drop in air quality thanks to the release of more pollutants in the coming week.
On Monday, the CPCB recorded an AQI of 314 – “very poor”.
Further, the CPCB reported that 19 areas in NCR exhibited “very poor” air quality, while six recorded in the “poor” category. The PM2.5 level was recorded at 174 μg/m3 and the PM10 level at 358 μg/m3, according to the Indian Express.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), a Government of India initiative, said that at present, there was “insignificant intrusion [of pollutants] from outside Delhi … which makes it an ideal time to determine the impact of local emissions on Delhi’s pollution level,” according to PTI.
Consequently, the CPCB issued a show-cause notice to South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation for their failure to limit polluting activities in their jurisdictions.
(With inputs from PTI)