NGT slams Delhi government for failing to control air pollution
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the Delhi government for not providing an action plan about the steps to curb air pollution. They have now directed the government to file its action plea within 48 hours. The court lamented that situation has become worse and "children are suffering." It also slammed the government for holding the India-Sri Lanka cricket match despite hazardous air-quality.
What steps has the Tribunal taken until now?
On November 28, NGT asked Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan to submit an action plan about tackling pollution. Haryana and UP have submitted these plans. NGT also directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and state pollution control boards to provide an air quality analysis every month. Earlier, CPCB reported that "exposure to such air for a prolonged period can trigger respiratory illness."
What were NGT's criticisms against the Delhi government?
The tribunal criticized the AAP government. It said that though pollution had reached alarming levels in Delhi, the government had a "lackadaisical" approach about dealing with the situation. Referring to the India-Sri Lanka match, NGT said "Even the players were playing the match wearing masks. You should have not held the match if the air quality was so bad."
NGT reprimands the government for not fulfilling its promises
NGT chastized the government for not enforcing the odd-even rule when the air quality is so severe. Further, it claimed that despite giving assurances that 4,000 buses would be introduced to decongest roads, not a single bus has come up after three years.
What reason did the government give for its laxity?
The government requested for more time to file the action plan as the chief secretary and environment secretary had been replaced recently. Hearing this, NGT mocked the government saying "Where is your action plan? Why have you not submitted it? What can we do if you keep on changing everybody? It's not our problem if people don't want to stick to you."
What does this imply now?
Delhi has been witnessing air pollution and smog for quite some time. Earlier in November, air quality degraded to alarming levels leading to closure of schools and construction activities. After a short reprieve, the situation has deteriorated again. The government has urged people to avoid smoking and use carpooling to combat the situation. However, stringent measures might now be required to tackle this situation.