New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said that most states have not fully utilized funds received under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and the 15th Finance Commission. This comes after NGT going through the reports filed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and others, stated that the reports reflect that the implementation of comprehensive mitigation measures for the prevention, control, and reduction of air pollution in Indian cities have not been followed by the states.
The Tribunal was hearing matters relating to deteriorating air quality in different cities on a PAN India basis as reflected in the Air Quality Index (AQI).
The bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava, in an order passed on December 5, 2023, found that only a few states have utilised funds received for the setting up of an AQI Monitoring Station.
In some states, we have found that the funds have been utilised under the heads, which may not have a direct connection with the improvement of air quality. Funds are required to be utilised as per the approved action plan for non-attainment cities under the NCAP and action plans approved for cities not falling as non-attainment cities, said the NGT.
NGT further said that states are required to utilise the fund promptly and for this purpose, it has been allocated without leaving any gap in utilisation.
The cities under consideration where an apportionment study has not been done are required to complete the said apportionment study concerning the factors contributing to pollution and focus on those factors that have a larger share of the contribution. Further efforts are required to ensure that the air quality improves in the cities under consideration, the tribunal added.
On November 22, 2023, the Tribunal considered the AQI report in respect of respective cities and recorded that there were no satisfactory efforts by the concerned authorities.
The Tribunal took note of the fact that the States were released funds for the implementation of an action plan to improve air quality for cities falling under ‘non-attainment cities’ under NCAP and the 15th Finance Commission and had directed the States to disclose in their next report the non-compliant cities for which funds were received and the details of their utilization.
The Tribunal had further directed that the action for improving the air quality should follow the approved action plan with priority to address the cause which is governing the air quality as per source apportionment.
The National Green Tribunal had earlier pulled up various states where the Air Quality Index (AQI) has dipped to severe, very poor and poor categories and said the action taken reports filed by them do not disclose what action has been taken for improvement of air quality.
We expected some improvement after the first order but we didn’t find any.
The Tribunal earlier had too issued notice to Chief Secretaries of various states including Delhi and directed to take immediate remedial action and submit the action taken report before the Tribunal, including Delhi.
NGT had noted that the said reports show that there are various cities where the air quality index has dipped to the “very poor” or even “severe” stage. For example, a perusal of the air quality index of November 1, 2023, discloses that in Hanumangarh, Fatehabad, and Hisar, the air quality has dipped to the “severe” level, in respect of Bahadurgarh, Biwani, Charkhi Dadri, Faridabad, Greater Noida, Kaithal, Noida, Rohtak and Sri Ganganagar apart from Delhi, the air quality was at “very poor” level and in respect of Amritsar, Ankleshwar, Baddi, Balllabgarh, Bathinda, Bharatpur, Bhiwadi, Bhopal, Bikaner, Bulandshahr, Bundi, Byrnihat, Churu, Dausa, Dhandbad, Dharuhera, Ghaziabad, Gurugram Gwalior, Jhansi, Jhunjhunu, Karnal, Khurja, Kota, Kurukshetra, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Manandi Gobindgarh, Manesar, Narnaul, Navi Mumbai, Panipat, Patna, Purnia, Rajgir, Sirsa, Sonipat, Thane, Tonk and Vapi, the air quality has dipped to “poor” level.
Noting the seriousness of the issue, NGT has impleaded the Chief Secretaries of the concerned States, Chairman, Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), Member Secretary, CPCB, and National Task Force through its head secretary, MoEF&CC, as parties in the case and sought their responses and directed them to take remedial action and submit an action taken report reflecting compliance of directions issued by the Tribunal from time to time in this regard.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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