The Delhi government on Tuesday said small enterprises in the Capital will not have to take consent from the pollution watchdog and municipal corporations, ringing alarm bells in the wake of extremely bad pollution levels in the Capital.
The government said the decision was taken to remove a major stumbling block in easing of doing business in Delhi.
Pollution permits are critical to improving Delhi's water and air quality as they are renewed after periodic inspections and ensure that anti-pollution norms are adhered to in the long-term.
"This is an extremely bad move considering the poisonous air we are breathing, and the near-dead state the Yamuna is in," said Mahendra Pandey, a former Central Pollution Control Board official.
The government said the requirement to take these consents was deterring a large number of traders from carrying out their business due to delays, harassment and increase in transaction costs. In its manifesto, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had promised that no raid will be carried out on any trader and all difficulties will also be removed in doing business if it came to power.
"But DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Committee) exists on the basis of two powerful central acts to check air and water pollution. The Delhi government does not have the power in the first place to do away with the requirement to take consent," Pandey said.
In Delhi, there are hardly any large industries. Some of the medium-scale polluting enterprises in the capital are those of metal recycling, plastic, electronic, perfume, and leather products. The number of total small and medium enterprises with limited investments, and registered in Delhi is 1,577 with 1,313 in manufacturing and the rest in services. But the actual number is much high.
Air pollution has been a huge cause for concern especially the quantum of extremely small particles - that can enter our lungs when we breathe - which cause several risks has been on the rise, several times the standards.
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) rated Delhi as the world's most polluted city, ahead of Karachi, Peshawar, Xining and Beijing.
The AAP had in its manifesto promised to reduce pollution with incentives for low-emission fuels such as CNG and electricity; and a plan for a holistic transport policy, which includes the induction of 5,000 more buses.