New Delhi, Nov 9: The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Union Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change secretary to call an emergency meeting within three days with Chief Secretaries of states falling under the National Capital Region (NCR) and pollution control agencies to discuss measures to curb pollution. It also ordered the authorities to consider possibility of cloud seeding as a measure to control pollution. (ALSO READ – Delhi Pollution: How Smog-Choked Beijing Improved Air Quality) Also Read - Toolkit Case: Climate Activist Disha Ravi to be Produced in Patiala High Court Today
The court also raised questions on the decision of increasing parking fees by four times to control pollution. Further, while observing that the odd-even scheme last year had unclogged Delhi roads, the High Court asked the Delhi government to consider implementing “odd even vehicle movement scheme” as a short term measure. Also Read - Buying Property in Delhi to be 'Substantially' Cheaper. Here's Why
Meanwhile, acting tough over the issue of deteriorating air quality in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned the industrial activities in the national capital till the next hearing. The Tribunal also directed deputation of an officer, by all the public authorities, to monitor the activities resulting into pollution. Also Read - We Will Trace Missing Farmers From Delhi Protest Sites, Reconnect Them to Their Families: Kejriwal
While hearing a plea filed by advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, the NGT bench asked the Delhi government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and government of neighbouring states to see the pitiable condition of people in hospitals and the way their lives are being played with. “Right to life is being snatched from people since they’re not getting a clean environment,” said the NGT.
Quoting Articles 21 and 48 of the Constitution, the NGT said that it is the responsibility of governments to make sure that citizens get a clean and conducive environment. “Even construction work taking place openly isn’t being stopped, and when such a situation has ensued now action is being promised,” the NGT added.
Coming down heavily on the AAP government, the NGT asked for the details about the steps taken to curtail pollution, the number of challans issued to violators and the number of construction sites where work has been stopped. It even questioned the government as to why rain isn’t artificially being triggered using helicopters. It also directed that vehicles more than 10 years, in case of diesel and 15 years in case of petrol, should be prohibited to enter Delhi.
What Arvind Kejriwal Says?
Addressing the media on Thursday, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the odd-even formula will be brought into effect by today or tomorrow, if the need arises. He also said that the pollution levels will continue to rise until state governments do not find an economically viable solutions to crop burning. “For a month (from mid Oct to mid Nov) the whole northern India becomes a gas chamber, not just Delhi,” he added. He also said that a solution can be reached if everyone, the Centre, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana government, come together putting politics aside.
A thick toxic layer of smog is persistent in Delhi and NCR since last few days. The Air Quality Index in the national capital and its nearby areas is swaying between 400-700 – ‘severe’ level.