With Delhi facing the worst smog in 17 years, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday asked the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take steps to control and curb the pollution.
The environment secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan were summoned and asked to submit a report on the burning of agricultural residues as well as the steps taken to curb pollution. The bench also directed the Delhi government to stop the plying of diesel vehicles more than 10 years old on the roads of the national capital.
“It is unfair to the people of Delhi. In everything, the authorities are just throwing off their hands. We have to do something. You cannot say time will do it,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.
“Regarding health (of the people), nobody is bothered. On air pollution, nobody’s bothered. The authorities are shifting the blame on each other. It is very bad,” the bench remarked.
On Thursday, the Centre for Science and Environment had said that Delhi is facing the worst smog in 17 years. The advocacy organisation said levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter) increased by 62.7% on November 2 compared with that on October 30. They said the levels were 9.4 times the standard on November 2 and 11.6 times the standard on November 3.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the Delhi government told the bench that the high level of air pollution was due to the burning of agricultural residue in neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
“It’s not just the crop burning. There is no crop burning in Delhi. According to you, crop burning is in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan but nowadays there is no wind, so the smoke can’t come here from these states,” the bench retorted.
Delhi is facing low visibility and smog throughout the day, due to dropping wind speeds and rise in humidity in the atmosphere. Such severe pollution levels can cause breathing problems, lung and heart diseases among many other ailments.
Next date for the hearing is scheduled on November 8.