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Delhi pollution: Steps taken to mitigate poor air quality ‘woefully inadequate’, says HC

The Delhi high court asked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee about the number of prosecutions it has launched for violation of construction norms, the number of teams it has for inspection and whether any penalties was provided for under the Environment Protection Act.

delhi Updated: Nov 16, 2017 23:21 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Delhi air pollution,Delhi pollution level,Delhi air quality
The Rashtrapati Bhavan shrouded by heavy smog in New Delhi on Thursday, November 16, 2017.(AFP)

The Delhi High Court asked the city government, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to apprise it on how they intend to spend the money collected as green cess and other similar funds to mitigate air pollution in the capital.

“We want to know what is being done with the funds,” said a bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva after senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, submitted that over ₹700 crore has been collected as green cess on sale of diesel cars of 2,000cc or larger engine capacity.

The pollution control committee told the bench that fines amounting to ₹50,000 were levied for every violation of construction norms in the city and 25% of the amount collected was remitted to CPCB.

The DPCC said the fines were levied on the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which had also ordered that remaining 75% of the amount collected be spent on mitigating air pollution in the city.

The court asked the authorities “to indicate the most appropriate methods to ensure a coordinated approach to deal with polluting construction sites and effective implementation of the Air Act, the Environment Protection Act” and the rules and guidelines framed under them.

It asked the authorities to provide the details before November 29, the next date of hearing.

During the hearing, the municipal corporations and the Delhi government assured the court that sprinkling of water was carried out on roads as ordered to reduce dust generation.

The DPCC also informed the court that the quadrupling of parking fare in Delhi has been rolled back.

On November 9, the high court had issued a slew of directions to improve air quality, including watering of roads to minimise dust, and had also suggested exploring the option of “cloud seeding” in the meeting between the Centre and the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan told the bench that its hospitals, dispensaries and mohalla clinics were ready deal with any health issues posed by the poor air quality.

The court was hearing a petition initiated by it to curb air pollution in the national capital. It has been issuing directions time-to-time in this regard.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 19:15 IST