Directions issued for strict action on air pollution: CPCB

New Delhi: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has submitted before the Delhi High Court that it has issued directions to implementing agencies including State Pollution Control Boards, construction agencies, municipal bodies and traffic police and transport department of Delhi and NCR for strict action against air polluting activities.

The CPCB, in its reply on an application against stubble burning in the states neighbouring Delhi, said that steps such as restriction on the use of pet-coke and furnace oil in industry and directions for the conversion of brick kilns to zig-zag technology have been taken that may likely impact positively on the ambient air quality.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, after considering the submissions on Thursday, disposed of the application seeking directions to authorities to take immediate steps to prevent stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the view of the rising air pollution and COVID-19 situation.

The bench noted that a committee was constituted on October 16 under the chairmanship of Supreme Court (retired) judge Justice Madan B Lokur in this regard and the Supreme Court is also hearing the related matter, which is scheduled on October 26.

The High Court also granted the petitioner liberty to approach the court again if needed.

The CPCB also submitted that in view of a higher number of active fire events in 2020 in both Punjab and Haryana as compared to the previous year, the board has asked state governments to direct concerned departments to intensify enforcement and monitoring to prevent burning incidences, including considering the adoption of additional measures for priority districts.

The affidavit also asked the two states to provide status with regard to setting up of Custom Hiring Centres and distribution of machinery.

The application, filed by one Sudhir Mishra through advocates Petal Chandhok and Ritwika Nanda, sought directions to the respondents to send expert teams to three states — Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab — for implementing effective measures to curb stubble burning.

Senior advocate Arvind Nayar, representing the petitioner, submitted that stubble burning leads to an increase in the number of emergency cases in the current situation of COVID-19 and highly impacted the lungs of COVID patients.

The submissions were also supported by Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, who appeared before the High Court for Central authorities.

The application moved in an ongoing 2015 matter related to air pollution, said that the high level of pollution caused due to stubble burning also affects the respiratory functions in human beings making the immune system weaker.

It submitted that stubble burning has already begun in parts of Punjab, indicating a mammoth rise of 6 per cent in incidents of stubble burning recently. According to the application, there are findings that clearly show a direct connection of the increased air pollution ascending the current situation and making it worst.

“Since air quality is a public good, central coordination to tackle the problem becomes even more important, implying that the government of the three states would need to come together and take immediate actions to stop farmers from burning the crop residue. Broadly, the Chief Ministers of Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana have to act expeditiously before the health of citizens of NCT of Delhi fall in the state enhanced emergency,” the application had said.

“The prevention, control, and abetment of the ever-increasing air pollution menace in the National Capital Territory of Delhi that is adversely affecting the image, habitability, prospects of trade and commerce, growth of the tourism sector and the health of the citizens of India residing or visiting Delhi, thereby inter alia violating fundamental rights to life and profession of the citizens of India, and more particularly of the NCT of Delhi,” it had added.

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