The National Green Tribunal slammed Punjab and Haryana governments for filing generalised action plans to combat air pollution and directed them to refer to its previous judgements on the issue. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also summoned the environment secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan asking them to give a “workable solution” for combating the problem of pollution. The tribunal took exception that
Punjab and Haryana were following the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority’s (EPCA’s) comprehensive action plan and not applying their own mind.
During the proceedings, both the states told the green panel that a slew of measures including stopping construction work, burning waste, shutting schools and monitoring of industries causing emissions will be taken whenever pollution is beyond prescribed limits continuously for 48 hours.
What is the logic of waiting for 48 hours? There is nothing great about the action plan which you have prepared. It is your basic function which you have to do all the time. Why have you referred to the EPCA’s plan? In this country, it is a dream to have prescribed norms of air quality, the bench observed.
When the bench asked the Delhi government its stand on the odd-even scheme, the counsel appearing for it said the government wants to implement it with exceptions and has also filed a review plea in this regard which will be heard tomorrow.
The tribunal had yesterday questioned the Delhi government and the neighbouring states over their action plan on ways to deal with severe air pollution in the city and directed them to file a detailed document to tackle with the problem. It had observed that air pollution was never at the “normal level” in the national capital and directed the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan to file the action plan afresh.
The counsel for the Delhi government had filed the plan which recommended implementation of odd-even plan, entry of trucks in the city, ban on construction works and disallowing children from playing outside when air quality turns severe. The counsel for petitioner Vardhaman Kaushik, who had filed plea against worsening air quality in Delhi, had said the action plans submitted by the states were merely “an eye-wash” and they have only “copy-pasted” the recommendations of the Supreme Court appointed EPCA.
Earlier, the NGT had directed the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and every state pollution control board to file ambient air quality analysis before the tribunal on monthly basis and also put up on their websites to enable the concerned authority to take effective steps to control air pollution.