Severe air pollution in Delhi, still no criminal cases filed, NCRB data for 2016 shows

Delhi was not among the three states that registered criminal cases under the air act.
A thick blanket of smog on the outskirts of New Delhi.(AP File Photo)
A thick blanket of smog on the outskirts of New Delhi.(AP File Photo)
Updated on Dec 05, 2017 06:01 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Delhi witnessed one of the most severe episodes of air pollution in the winter of 2016 but no criminal cases were registered that year under the air act, which empowers state pollution control boards to take action against polluting industries and individuals, the latest data by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows.

The NCRB said only 25 cases were filed across the country under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, last year, half the number filed in 2015.

Delhi was not among the three states that registered criminal cases under the act. Maharashtra filed 21 cases and Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh filed only two last year, the bureau said.

The national capital has been reeling under “very poor” category air quality for the past few weeks. This year, the pollution levels entered the “severe” zone on November 7 and the Air Quality Index (AQI) hit its peak of 486, highest so far, on November 9.

December has not been any different. Delhi woke up to another hazy morning on Tuesday because of the toxic air with the AQI close to the outer limit in the “very poor” category. Monday’s average AQI hovered around 390, almost touching the hazardous mark. An AQI value above 400 on the scale of 500 is considered severe pollution.

A Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health report in October said India registered 1.81 million deaths caused partly by air pollution in 2015, the highest among all the countries.

Environmental law experts said it reflects the poor state of the enforcement of rules specifically made to tackle air pollution, especially with regard to industries.

“Despite having some of the most polluted cities in the world, our implementation of air pollution laws is zero. The responsible authorities are not filing any cases for violations. They say they are taking action but they are not enforcing anything,” Ritwick Dutta, an environmental lawyer, said.

In most cases, industries are the violators. They are legally obliged to have certification from the pollution control boards under the air act and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, but few companies actually have proper certification, according to Dutta.

The minimum punishment under the air act is 18 months of imprisonment but nobody has gone to jail for violating it since it was promulgated in 1981, he added.

India’s pollution control boards have the power to file criminal cases against industries and individuals for violating the provisions of the act but they rarely do so.

Part of the problem is the lack of a dedicated legal team, giving boards the resources only to issue notices and, in some instances, extract fines, a senior official at the board, who was not authorised to speak to the media, said.

However, a member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board disagreed. “It is a question of availability of information. Cases are being filed and people do get fined and imprisoned,” A Sudhakar said.

He acknowledged that the state pollution control boards that are supposed to file the cases were not sharing the information with the CPCB, which is the national pollution regulator. Only five state boards -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh -- submitted the information to the CPCB.

The cases listed by the state boards were filed for violations under the air and water acts.

Debadityo Sinha, a resident fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said even when cases are filed, the conviction rate is low.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Malavika Vyawahare tells science and environment stories using words, photos and multimedia. She studied environmental journalism at Columbia University and is based in Delhi.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • The UT education department will also hold a demo to show how the software is to be used to all stakeholders soon. (HT File Photo)

    UT education department to launch app to ease teachers’ workload

    To ease the burden of teachers in government schools, who have to submit a lot of data daily and periodically to the UT education department, the department will be launching an app to ease the workload of the teachers and to make all data transparent and accessible online. Data related to all schools, teachers and students will be uploaded here.

  • A meeting of Haryana cabinet was held under the chairmanship of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. (HT Photo)

    Haryana cabinet nod to providing civic amenities to unauthorised colonies

    The Haryana cabinet on Monday approved a policy under which essential services and civic amenities will be provided in infrastructure-deficient areas outside municipal limits, in a move aimed at regularising unauthorised colonies. The provision of community sites, parks, open spaces and public utility will have to be made by the developers where the colony is developed less than 50%. This policy will help in improving the standard of living of the residents of unauthorised colonies.

  • ‘Lack of vision, road map to revive Punjab’s failing economy’: Opposition slams AAP budget (HT Photo)

    ‘Lack of vision, road map to revive Punjab’s failing economy’: Opposition slams AAP Budget

    The opposition on Monday attacked the AAP government in Punjab for presenting a lacklustre maiden Budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, with no roadmap for the schemes announced and a lack of vision to revive the “decaying” economy of the state. Leader of Opposition Partap Bajwa said that the government's guarantees to the people of Punjab are left unfulfilled. The requirement for primary health care in Punjab is much larger than 117 clinics.

  • The Amritsar commissionerate police on Monday brought gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who is a prime accused in the murder of singer Sidhu Moose Wala, on transit remand. (HT File Photo)

    Amritsar police to grill Lawrence Bishnoi in gangster Kandowalia’s murder case

    The Amritsar commissionerate police on Monday brought gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who is a prime accused in the murder of singer Sidhu Moose Wala, on transit remand for questioning in the killing of gangster Ranbir Singh, alias Rana Kandowalia, who was shot dead at a private hospital in Amritsar last year. Amritsar police commissioner Arun Pal Singh said Bishnoi's name emerged during investigation into Kandowalia's killing. The remand was later extended till July 27.

  • An iron trader’s employee was grievously wounded in the attack. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

    Iron trader’s employee shot at, robbed of 12 lakh in Punjab

    An iron trader's employee was grievously wounded after three-bike borne men shot Parminder in the abdomen before fleeing with his bag containing 12 lakh at Mandi Gobindgarh in Punjab's Fatehgarh Sahib district on Monday. The victim has been identified as Parminder Singh, a resident of Sirhind who works at Yuvraj Impex based in the industrial town of Mandi Gobindgarh.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, June 28, 2022