The National Green Tribunal, Thursday asked four northern states – Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to consider putting a ban on 10 year old diesel vehicles. The Green Tribunal also ordered these four states to set up state level monitoring committees to make action plans to deal with the ‘severe’ problem of pollution in these four cities. The central monitoring committee, it said could meet once in two months starting November 17 and the state level committees every month starting November 24. The Tribunal underlined that the SC in a declaration made ten years ago had said that Article 21 which deals with Protection of Life and Personal Liberty must include clean environment as a fundamental right. Moreover, NGT also directed that every state committee must make one model district with high land use of agriculture and implement orders to completely stop stubble burning.
The bench, addressing the alarming situation said, “When air pollution enters alarming or ‘severe’ levels, immediate steps are required to be taken as environmental emergency. According to experts when PM 10 and PM 2.5 are above 431 and 251 micrograms per cubic metre respectively then it is the situation of severe emergency in the ambient air,”.
The tribunal went as far as asking the state of Punjab to withdraw incentives including free power from farmers who are burning crops. The bench directed Delhi to start using vaccume machines to clean the roads and to prevent dust and vehicular pollution. It strictly asked Delhi government to implement its existing orders on a priority.
“In such emergency, states shall immediately provide happy seeders or other such machines in agriculture fields for removal of agriculture residue and incentives should be provided to farmers to sell their paddy straw to biomass plants, industries and board making unit.
“All construction and demolition activities and transportation of construction material should be halted temporarily and stone crushers should be directed to shut down,” the bench said.