Cracking the whip on states, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday directed their chief secretaries to submit by Tuesday details of cities worst affected by air pollution, failing which bailable warrants may be issued against them.
States are required to furnish data on pollution levels in their respective cities that have the worst quality of air, including how many diesel and petrol vehicles they have, and the latest population count of affected cities by Tuesday.
An NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, which is hearing a petition that seeks to extend a ban on diesel vehicles in the top 11 metropolitan cities, said states need to comply with these orders as the matter “has so far been treated as a joke”.
He warned the chief secretaries of states, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab, that arrest warrants will be issued if they fail to furnish details of their cities having the worst air pollution levels by Tuesday, the last day before the tribunal closes for the summer.
The Supreme Court had in last December banned the registration of new diesel vehicles with a capacity of more than 2,000cc in the NCR. A ban had also been imposed in the state of Kerala, but only on the sale of old vehicles.
Following the diesel ban in Delhi, NGT identified 15 key cities across the country where the ban is likely to be extended.
However, the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises has opposed any such ban and has requested the NGT not to restrict the movement or registration of diesel vehicles in cities other than Delhi. The government’s application will also be taken up for hearing on Tuesday.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CBCB) also submitted a report on rising pollution levels in 15 cities — Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Patna, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Nagpur, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Pune. While Maharashtra said Mumbai is the worst polluted city in the state, UP said it needs more time to submit requisite data.
A study by IIT-Kanpur, which was commissioned by the Delhi government, had towards the end of 2015, showed that 56% of the PM10 and 38% of PM2.5 pollution comes from road dust and only 9% and 20%, respectively, comes from the all categories of vehicles combined.
Moreover, of all the vehicles, 46% of PM10 and PM2.5 comes from trucks and 33% comes from two-wheelers, while four wheelers—only diesel — contribute only 10%, which makes it even less than 1% of the total pollutants.