Environment

SC Tells Pollution Board to Prosecute Officials Who Didn't Act on Complaints

"You should prosecute them. Let these people realise what they have done.”

New Delhi: On November 26, the Supreme Court asked the central pollution body to prosecute government officials who had failed to act on nearly 250 complaints against the pollution in Delhi-NCR.

According to Scroll.in, a bench comprising Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), “You should prosecute them. Let these people realise what they have done.”

A.N.S. Nadkarni, the additional solicitor general, appeared for the CPCB, and informed the court that between November 1 and 22, the board had received 749 air pollution complaints on their social media accounts. He said action had been taken on around 500, or 67%.

The remaining complaints “have been assigned to respective nodal agencies and are in the process of getting resolved,” a CPCB affidavit attested.

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Responding to the court’s suggestion that the CPCB prosecute officials who have not acted on complaints, Nadkarni said the board would look into it.

According to an analysis of complaints during the board’s “clean air campaign” on November 1-10, 13 and 20, most air-pollution incidents related to construction and demolition activities, followed by burning of waste, road dust, unpaved areas/roads, traffic congestion and industrial emissions.

The Supreme Court’s directive came on the day Delhi’s air quality had slipped to the ‘very poor’ category. The overall air quality index (AQI) on Monday was recorded at 343, according to CPCB data. The PM2.5 level was recorded at 194 μg/m3 and the PM10 level, at 354 μg/m3 – both high.

Also read: New UNEP Report Suggests 25 Measures to Tackle Air Pollution

The board had floated its Facebook and Twitter accounts on October 29 and set up a separate cell to receive and manage complaints there. It also announced an email address on its website on November 5.

However, the board also stated that complaints on social media would have to be resolved by nodal agencies.

Per the CPCB affidavit:

An efficient mechanism for resolving the complaints through social media can be ensured through respective nodal agencies when they open their official social media accounts and follow the account created by CPCB so that the complaints received at CPCB end can be forwarded to respective agencies. Action taken by agencies can be informed to the complainant on the same platform.

The CPCB further said that to act against complaints posted on the social media on priority, it has been field teams to the locations of alleged air pollution.

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