The Delhi High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) have both censured the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana for failing to be prepared to deal with stubble burning, the major reason cited for the severe smog conditions in Delhi NCR.
The Delhi HC and the tribunal were reviewing the extent of preventive action taken so far, even as Delhi-NCR woke up to a blanket of thick haze with air quality measured as ‘severe’.
The High Court called stubble burning as the “main villain” for the current levels of pollution while a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar rapped the three governments for being unprepared to tackle the situation.
CPCB Records Dangerous Levels of Pollution
Pollution levels have breached the acceptable levels several times over in Delhi NCR, raising alarm among experts and citizens.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded air quality as being ‘severe’, which indicates that the intensity of pollution was extreme.
The NGT bench noted that the ambient air quality was so bad that children were unable to breathe properly and asked why the governments had failed to spray water using helicopters as directed by it.
The bench has instructed that the authorities report back in a few days’ time regarding the action taken. It has also asked the state governments to explain why preventive and precautionary measures had not been taken by them as there were indications earlier itself that such a dire situation was likely.
The CPCB similarly has been asked to inform the bench regarding the emergency directions issued by it in order to tackle the situation.
Plea Filed With NGT Seeks Information On Preventive Steps Taken By Governments
The NGT bench was responding a plea calling for urgent action to address the worsening air quality in Delhi NCR. Calling it an environmental emergency, it stated that the pollution was affecting children and senior citizens the most.
The plea quoted a CPCB report stating that the ambient air quality of Delhi as recorded post Diwali on October 17, 18 and 19 was “very poor.” It also alleged that despite elaborate orders issued by the NGT last year, the authorities had failed to take action to prevent the reoccurrence of the issue.
Filed by environment activist Akash Vashishta the plea points out that the number of cars in the city has been increasing over the years, and noted that it was important for the government to consider a cap on vehicular traffic to control pollution.
The plea also asks that Delhi and the neighbouring states provide a status report with respect to the steps being taken to educate people regarding waste burning and the resulting pollution.