Delhi air pollution: NGT pulls up AAP govt for not filing action plan, holding India-Sri Lanka Test

Updated on Dec 04, 2017 12:40 PM IST

The NGT criticised the Delhi government for not filing an action plan on the steps taken to curb air pollution in the national capital.

The National Green Tribunal asked the Delhi government to submit a plan to tackle air pollution by December 6.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)
The National Green Tribunal asked the Delhi government to submit a plan to tackle air pollution by December 6.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)
New Delhi | ByAgencies

The National Green Tribunal pulled up the Delhi government on Monday for not filing a comprehensive action plan on ways to deal with severe air pollution, criticising the authorities for holding the India-Sri Lanka cricket match despite bad air quality.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar took exception over the failure of the Aam Aadmi Party government to file the report despite its specific order.

During the hearing, the Delhi government said it needed more time to file the action plan as the chief secretary and environment secretary have been recently changed.

The tribunal, however, directed the government to file the report within the next 48 hours.

The Sri Lankan cricket team had complained of poor air quality that forced India to declare their innings.

“Every newspaper has been carrying headline that the air pollution was going to be higher this week. Still you took no action. Even the players were playing match wearing masks. You should have not held the match if the air quality was so bad. Are people of Delhi supposed to bear this?” the bench said.

The two teams resumed their cricket Test in “unhealthy” air pollution -- 18 times higher than the level considered safe -- a day after smog briefly halted play.

Sri Lankan fielders donned facemasks and protested over the air pollution on Monday, saying the hazardous condition had made some of them vomit.

On Monday, while official indicators showed pollution levels rising to “hazardous” levels, there was no repeat of protests by the visitors that halted play for about 20 minutes on Sunday.

“Where is your action plan? Why have you not submitted it? What can we do if you keep on changing everybody? It’s not our problem if people don’t want to stick to you.

“You keep on doing meetings but tell us a single action or step you have taken in the last four days to combat air pollution,” the bench said.

It said that the pollution in the national capital has already reached alarming levels yet the government was adopting a “lackadaisical” approach in dealing with the situation.

The tribunal also pulled up the Delhi government for not introducing odd-even car rationing scheme at this point of time when the air quality is severe.

“You want exemptions for two-wheelers but you don’t apply your mind that these 60 lakh vehicles cause the maximum pollution,” it said.

It also said that despite stating before the tribunal that 4,000 buses would be introduced to decongest the city roads, the city government has not a single bus even after three years of assurance.

The tribunal had on November 28 asked the AAP government and four neighbouring states- Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to submit an action plan on tackling pollution.

It had earlier directed the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and every state pollution control boards 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.

The India Meteorological Department said pollution levels have spiked due to calm conditions, marked by low wind speed and moisture. The IMD has forecast possibility of light rains on December 5 and 6.

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