Most government buildings in Delhi are running without the Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s permission.
These buildings, including those of ministries and departments, get massive footfall, consume a huge quantity of electricity as well as water and then discharge untreated sewage.
DPCC permission ensures pollution-control standards and are reviewed periodically. Since that’s not happening, much electricity and water which can otherwise be supplied to large parts of Delhi go waste. This also puts pressure on the already creaking waste water treatment system, further polluting the already dying Yamuna.
In response to an RTI query, the DPCC on Thursday confirmed that it has not granted the consent to operate (CTO) to the Delhi Secretariat building, Parivesh Bhawan (central pollution control board), Commonwealth Games Village and Kashmere Gate ISBT. Though the RTI question was about only four buildings, DPCC sources confirmed that most government buildings didn’t have the CTO.
“Our focus (to make DPCC permission mandatory) currently is on commercial guzzlers — hotels, clubs and restaurants.
Most of these government buildings have small canteens and some of them like Delhi Secretariat have proper waste management mechanism. Our focus is on the new buildings,” said a senior Delhi government official, requesting not to be named. He admitted there was no study on wastage of resources and quantum of pollutants generated in government buildings.
RTI activist and former CPCB official Mahendra Pandey said, “The new building argument doesn’t hold. The consent to operate is issued and periodically reviewed under the Water Act, 1974, and the Air Act, 1981. These Acts don’t talk about old and new buildings. It doesn’t matter if the building is private or public. The Acts look at only discharge and emission.”
“Some of the canteens are bigger than average-size restaurants. It’s no secret that people can do without the DPCC’s consent and often the consent is not granted on merit,” he said.
Environmentalist Bharati Chaturvedi said, “Government establishments are much worse. Before taking on commercial ventures, the government should first clean up their act. The Delhi Secretariat building has a paper recycling units and a composting plant but that doesn’t exempt it from having to obtain DPCC consents.”
“Water and electricity are common resources to all of us. You go to any (union) ministry building and you will find water taps running and wasteful cooling. You cannot have two sets of rules. If the focus is on new buildings, why is the government after old hotels and clubs (asking them to take CTO)?” she asked.