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New NGT directives include stay-at-home warnings for elderly & kids

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Looking to issue “immediate advisories” to the public by Thursday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered the Delhi government to identify “critically polluted areas.

Due to all Delhi areas “consistently” showing high pollution according to the Air Quality Index (AQI), the NGT bench issued a series of directives towards curbing the capital’s pollution.

The agencies which failed to submit their compliance reports were given a December 11 deadline. The tribunal also ordered all concerned departmental heads and the secretaries of the environment and health departments to be present on the day.

The bench which was headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar asked: “What are you doing about creating public awareness about critically polluted areas?”

Among the advisories issued by the bench, is a suggestion that children and elderly should not come out of their houses during “high pollution” hours.

The Environment Secretary of the Delhi government was directed by the NGT bench to meet the Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), along with the Director-General (Health Services) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), on Wednesday to implement the plans properly.

It was later confirmed by government officials that due to the absence of CPCB representatives from CPCB and health services, no decisions could be taken.

The committee would be addressing Anand Vihar and ITO as they have been identified as critically polluted areas in Delhi.

The detailed order of NGT was not available at the time of going to press but Advocate Vardhaman Kaushik asked the government to look into pollution from “other sources” rather than just from vehicles, waste-burning or construction. His plea was heard by the NGT bench.

After Vardhaman identified diesel generators as a fourth major source of pollution, the NGT asked the DPCC to record details of such generators in Delhi and find out how many follow the emission protocols.

An investigation conducted by The Indian Express on the Delhi air quality through its ‘Death by Breath’ series had brought up several important issues to the fore. Taking these into account, the NGT, on April 7, banned from Delhi diesel vehicles older than 10 years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years.

The tribunal also ordered for the AQI to be kept under constant observation, along with ensuring a ban on construction waste dumping. Commercial vehicles which are not destined for Delhi would also be diverted. On this issue, the Haryana government informed that alternative routes via NH-71A and NH-71 were being showed to 6,000-7,000 diverted at Panipat.

The Centre may also order for a limit on the number of vehicles sold in the capital each year.

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Experts Around Globe Share Ways To Combat Air Pollution

"India needs to initiate and implement strategies to tackle the deadly air pollution. The need is to adopt an integrated approach with solutions that provide real impact." Pixabay

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The three-day workshop, organised by the North India Office of the US Embassy in collaboration with not-for-profit RTI International, is aimed at sharing the US best practices in combating air pollution to reduce emissions of fine-particulate matter and other pollutants in North India. Pixabay

Indian and American experts will chalk out strategies to combat air pollution caused by crop burning, vehicular emission and construction dust at a workshop that began, here on Thursday.

The three-day workshop, organised by the North India Office of the US Embassy in collaboration with not-for-profit RTI International, is aimed at sharing the US best practices in combating air pollution to reduce emissions of fine-particulate matter and other pollutants in North India.

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“Based on the 2016 Global Burden of Disease estimates, about 1.6 million deaths per year in India have been attributed to air pollution,” the release quoted him as saying. Pixabay

It will focus on strategies to minimise emissions, behavioural changes for accepting new alternatives, adoption of tools for estimation of emissions and air quality impacts, enhancing involvement of the private sector and the public as part of the change and developing an integrated regulatory approach.

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“India needs to initiate and implement strategies to tackle the deadly air pollution. The need is to adopt an integrated approach with solutions that provide real impact.” Pixabay

Prakash Doraiswamy, Principal Air Quality Scientist at RTI International, said several north Indian cities rank among the top 25 cities in the world with fine particle (PM 2.5) concentrations 10-17 times higher than World Health Organisation’s guidelines, as per the World Global Ambient Air Quality Database (2018).

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“Based on the 2016 Global Burden of Disease estimates, about 1.6 million deaths per year in India have been attributed to air pollution,” the release quoted him as saying.

“India needs to initiate and implement strategies to tackle the deadly air pollution. The need is to adopt an integrated approach with solutions that provide real impact,” he said.  (IANS)