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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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Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year

Nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause

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Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year
Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year. Pixabay

Outdoor air pollution even at levels deemed safe may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes globally, with India being at a greater risk due to lack of air cleaning policies, scientists said in a report in Lancet.

The findings showed that air pollution contributes to development of diabetes by reducing insulin production and triggering inflammation, which prevents the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs.

The overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is tilted more toward lower-income countries such as India that lack the resources for environmental mitigation systems and clean-air policies, Lancet Planetary Health report said.

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, from the University of Washington in St. Louis, US.

“We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” Aly explained.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers estimated that pollution contributed to a little more than three million new diabetes cases globally in 2016, which represented about 14 per cent of all new diabetes cases globally that year.

Nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause.

According to the UN 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report, an estimated 4.2 million people died as a result of high levels of ambient air pollution.

Also Read: Eat Walnuts to Ward off Diabetes Risk

In the study, the team analysed data from more than one million participants without a history of diabetes, who were followed for a median of eight and a half years.

They also looked at particulate matters, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot and liquid droplets.

Poverty-stricken countries facing a higher diabetes-pollution risk include Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, while richer countries such as France, Finland and Iceland experience a lower risk, the study said. (IANS)