December 03, 2018:
On Monday, National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped a fine of ₹ 25 crore on the Govt. of Delhi for not complying with its previous order to shut down at least 51,000 industries running in non-conforming areas across the national capital.
The green panel directed the Delhi Govt. to recover the amount from polluters and from deducting the salaries of officials responsible for checking the menace. If the govt. fails to pay the fine, it will have to pay a fine of ₹10 crore every month.
The directions by the tribunal’s chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel came after the chief secretary filed an affidavit in the court, “contents of which were found to be vague” by the panel.
Principal Bench in its order said, “The compliance report submitted is just an eyewash. The Delhi Govt. has not prosecuted even a single illegal industry nor has it named any industries running in non-conforming areas.”
The court combined a number of petitions on air pollution asking for shutting down of illegal industries as well as burning of plastic and rubber in Bawana & Narela industrial areas. Official figures show the two areas generate approximately 1,500 metric tonnes of waste every month.
The Capital has been reeling under air pollution crisis for over a month due to regional factors like stubble burning and localised factors like pollution from vehicles, firecrackers, construction activities among others.
Delhi’s air quality has been in the “very poor” category for the past one week. Pollution levels in the national capital showed marginal improvement on Sunday and came out of the “very poor” zone for the first time in six days.
On Monday, the air quality in Delhi oscillated between “poor” & “very poor” categories due to local pollutants as authorities predicted a further rise in the pollution level.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded an overall Air Quality Index or AQI of 314, which falls in the “very poor” category.
The Centre-run System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) said the air quality in Delhi was “very poor” and that there was an “insignificant intrusion (of pollutants) from outside of Delhi” at present.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor” and 401 and 500 is considered to be “severe”.
At these levels, there may be discomfort in breathing on prolonged exposure, while people with heart disease could face discomfort with short exposure.