At least eight premature deaths take place every day in Delhi due to pollution-related diseases, the Supreme Court noted on Monday as it ordered the Centre to stop the use of furnace oil and petroleum coke (pet coke) by industries located in and around the Capital within four weeks.
A bench headed by Justice MB Lokur declined solicitor general Ranjit Kumar’s request to give him eight weeks for coming up with a concrete plan to phase out the two most polluting fuels.
Kumar admitted the sulphur content in the two fuels contributed maximum to the high pollution levels in Delhi, declared the most polluting cities in the world. But, he insisted that before a ban is imposed on it, the court must consider its actual impact on the environment and also the availability of cleaner fuels.
“But, what about the eight deaths that take place every day,” the bench asked the solicitor, who said several stakeholders need to be taken on board before it takes a final decision. The court refused to accept Kumar’s contention and told him to resolve the issue within the time frame fixed.
The bench also asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), EPCA, a statutory authority to look into environment issues, to sit with the representatives of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to evolve a comprehensive plan to check pollution in the national capital region (NCR).
“There is a graded response that gets notified when pollution levels need to be curbed. However, we must have a plan to ensure pollution doesn’t take place at all,” the bench told Kumar.
It pointed out that the court had received three separate reports — from the Delhi government, CPCB and EPCA. “Let us have just one proposal that can be finalised after having discussions with all,” said the bench, giving two weeks to hold the meeting.
For setting up air quality monitoring stations in Delhi, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan, the bench also permitted CPCB to withdraw Rs2.5 crore from the Environment Protection Charge (EPC) levied on purchase of new diesel cars with more than 2000 cc engine capacity. Kumar assured the systems would start functioning by May 2017 as per the SC’s direction. Till January 2017, Rs19 crore was deposited in the EPC account.
Monitoring stations in these 4 states:
Uttar Pradesh: 10 manual and 1 Real Time Air Quality Stations are operating here. Two real time monitoring stations will be installed by March 2017 in Ghaziabad and Noida. The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) will establish 6 manual stations and 8 Real Time stations by May.
Haryana: Two manual and four real time stations are operating. 22 manual and 13 real time news stations in districts under NCR will come up here.
Rajasthan: Nine manual stations are already operating and installation of two real time stations will be completed by March 2017.
Delhi: Has 28 stations (10 manual and 18 Real Time). 20 real time stations are planned by DPCC