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No respite for Delhi, green panel angry
by RESMI SIVARAM November 11, 2017
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NEW DELHI: There was no respite from smog and pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday, a fourth straight day.

Visibility during morning peak hours remained at 600 metres. There was noticable reduction in the number of private vehicles on road, authorities said.

The concentration of pollutants remained high. Delhi Pollution Control Board said that PM2.5 concentration seen in East Delhi (Anand Vihar) was 13 times the allowed maximum limit at 08.45 hours. Similarly, Punjabi Bagh station read the PM2.5 concentration 10 times the permissible limit.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday cracked the whip, attacking the Delhi government for its lapses in checking pollution.

“You’ve made a mess of Delhi. You have done what you had to, now we will decide what you have to do. Why didn’t you issue any direction for shutting down polluting industries and construction. You did it yesterday as we told you to do so. Go to the hospital see number of patients that are being admitted,” it said.

The NGT also asked neighbouring states to ensure that crop waste burning is stopped. A considerable amount of fine will be charged from salary of officers responsible for checking it if they are found failing, the tribunal said.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also sent notices to Centre, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana govts on “life-threatening” pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The Delhi government asked NGT to exempt industries catering to essential services from its ban order. At the same time, the NGT asked Delhi government to impose a fine of Rs100,000 on builders defying a ban on construction work.

The odd-even scheme of private vehicle regulation was to be enforced from Monday, but the green panel rapped Delhi government for it, asking why it was needed when it was found ineffective.

The NGT said, “Odd-Even formula can’t be imposed like this. Nothing has been done from your (Delhi govt) end since the past one year.” The Supreme Court never asked for imposition of this scheme, it said.

The apex court and the NGT have suggested 100 measures to curb pollution. “But you always opted for odd-even. Delhi government will have to justify the implementation of this scheme.” The NGT asked the Delhi government to give an undertaking that the Odd-Even scheme will be rolled out only when particulate matter levels are over 300. It also questioned the justification of exempting two-wheelers and women drivers during the odd-even scheme despite knowing that two-wheelers caused 46 per cent pollution, as per an IIT Kanpur report.

The car rationing system will keep 1.3 million cars from the roads for five days.

The Delhi High Court also raised concerns on the situation. Calling it an “emergency situation,” a bench of Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the government to consider the option of “cloud seeding” for artificial rainfall that could bring down the dust and particulate matter in the atmosphere.

It directed the Delhi government to seriously consider a ban on further construction in the city to the extent possible and implementing the “odd-even” vehicle usage scheme as a short term measure.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda reviewed the situation on Friday. He has directed all the central government-run hospitals to stock nebulizers and other related equipment in a good condition and be ready to meet any exigency.

The smog delayed 41 trains in Delhi, rescheduled 9 and 10 were cancelled.

The government is working to provide 500 additional buses next week when the odd-even scheme is enforced.
 

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