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Delhi’s AQI Deteriorates, NGT Slaps Fine of 25 Crore on Delhi Govt

Malvika Singh |
The tribunal gave the government the option of recovering the cost of “damage to the environment” from officers who are tasked with taking action against polluters, as well as from the polluters under the ‘polluter pays principle’.
delhi pollution

Image Courtesy: Indian Express

Delhi’s air quality deteriorated again on Sunday, and slipped into ‘very poor’ category due to local pollutants. Authorities have predicted further increase in the pollution level.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) had last week forecast that the air quality of the national capital is expected to “significantly deteriorate” on Sunday due to a decline in temperature, which might lead to entrapment of pollutants. However, even after “significant deterioration”, the air quality is likely to stay in the ‘very poor’ category, it had said.

According to SAFAR, the air quality is very poor in Delhi, and at present, there is “insignificant intrusion from outside of Delhi”. “It is an ideal time to ascertain the impact of local emissions on the pollution level of Delhi,” said the forecast.

The local emissions include pollution by vehicles, construction activities and garbage-burning among others.

Earlier, authorities had said that vehicular emissions contribute to 40 per cent to the air pollution in Delhi.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said in 14 areas of the national capital, the air quality was in the “very poor” category, while in another 14 areas, it fell under “poor” category. The PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre) level was recorded at 155, and the PM10 level at 328, it added.

The industries in Narela and Bawana continue to spew pollutant materials in the atmosphere despite orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT had directed the the chief secretary of Delhi to take stock of the situation, and file a compliance report, which has not been filed.

The NGT on Monday slapped a fine of Rs 25 crore on the Delhi government for failing to curb pollution in the city. The tribunal gave the government the option of recovering the cost of “damage to the environment” from officers who are tasked with taking action against polluters, as well as from the polluters under the ‘polluter pays principle’.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that in case the state government fails to comply with the orders, a sum of Rs 10 crore per month will be levied.

“The Delhi government will forthwith deposit a sum of Rs 25 crore towards the cost of damage to the environment with the CPCB for restoration of the damage. We further direct that on failure to comply with this order, the Delhi government may be required to deposit at least ₹10 crore per month till the order of this tribunal is fully executed,” the bench said.

Read more: Delhi’s Hazy Autumn Sky: Reasons to See Beyond Stubble Burning

Rapping the state government for not providing “relevant information”, the bench said, “In the compliance affidavit, beyond making a vague averment that challans have been furnished which appears to be a delicate concealment of relevant fact. Such particulars may now be furnished and action initiated under the law against those responsible including officers of the Delhi government.”

Further, the chief secretary has been directed to prepare an action plan, identifying the names of the persons responsible for executing and supervising the plan, and in case of failure, bearing the consequences.

“The Delhi government is at liberty to recover the cost of damage to the environment from its officers as well as from the polluters acting in violation of the law,” the bench added.

The directions came while the green panel was hearing a plea filed by city residents of Mundka and Tikri Kalan, Satish Kumar and Mahavir Singh, which talks about burning of plastic, leather, rubber and other waste materials on agricultural lands in Mundka and Neelwal villages.

The tribunal further said that a performance guarantee of Rs 25 crore has to be deposited by the state government, and in case of non-compliance of orders, the amount will be forfeited.

The chief secretary has been directed to file a compliance affidavit by March 31, 2019. However, this order is subject to challenge in the Supreme Court. Delhi government is yet to issue any statement over this matter.

Read more: Air Quality Dips to ‘Hazardous’ in National Capital Ahead of Diwali

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