The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today directed builders in the National Capital Region to stop all construction activities by tomorrow if they had not implemented the environmental guidelines laid down by the government in 2010.
The green panel also rejected a Delhi government plea to exclude essential services like fire, ambulance and jail vans, from its ban on plying of over 10-year old diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region (NCR) and grant it six months to implement the ban order on these services.
The NGT, however, allowed the Delhi government to move a “data backed” petition on the issue.
An NGT bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed all the Delhi-NCR builders, who have not followed its orders and not taken precautions under 2010 guidelines issued by the Environment Ministry, to stop construction by tomorrow.
“By tomorrow all builders who have not taken all the precautions under MoEF 2010 guidelines, their work must be stopped,” the bench said.
The guidelines pertain specifically to checking pollution during construction activities and the precautions that need to be taken by the builders.
Noting that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation was carrying out massive construction work, the NGT said “they are required to ensure preventive steps to check air pollution.”
The Tribunal also passed a slew of directions with regard to construction activity being carried out by builders in Delhi-NCR.
During the hearing, senior advocate Pinaki Misra, appearing for Delhi government, urged the Tribunal to relax the 10-year-old ban order for government and contractual vehicles engaged in essential services like fire brigades, ambulances and jail vans.3
“We are going to analyse everything. We are not going to change our orders today. Kindly move a data based application and then come before us. Our order will stand as it is. Bring appropriate data to show how this order can be implemented better,” the bench said.
The NGT had three days ago ordered that “all diesel vehicles, heavy or light, which are ten years old will not be permitted on the roads of Delhi and NCR.”
Arguing before the panel, Misra said “many essential services are being carried out by government vehicles which are more than 10-year-old. Summer is coming, Delhi Jal Board tankers would be carrying water to deficient areas. Delhi Milk Scheme, different MCDs, Delhi fire and ambulance services, fair price shops etc., all these services will get hampered.”
The bench shot back and asked “why don’t you substitute the old vehicles with new ones”.
Misra pleaded for a “little more time” and said the “government is showing intent. A 6-month window will give us enough time to phase out the vehicles. But if we don’t start challaning or penalising vehicles we will be in contempt of the Tribunal.”
The senior advocate also said that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was “personally dealing” with the matter and the government has a “bonafide intent” to deal with the issue of air pollution.
The bench however said “we understand. Let the message be conveyed to the public. 10-year old vehicles will not be allowed on roads. Move proper application, we will regulate.
“The mere fact that concern has arisen is indicator enough. We are not going to relax anything. We are not oblivious of the fact that implementation of such order has its own effects,” the bench said.
On April 7, the green panel had held that all diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old would not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.
Noting that diesel was the prime source of air pollution in Delhi, the Tribunal had said the situation was so alarming that people have been even advised to leave Delhi due to adverse effects on health.