NEW DELHI: The authorities in the National Capital Region continued to be lax even as the level of pollution+ was rising gradually with the onset of winter, the Environment Pollution – Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) said on Tuesday, adding that “time is running out”.
The Supreme Court-appointed body+ pulled up the states in the region, especially Uttar Pradesh, and asked them to deploy teams on the ground to flag violations such as open burning of waste
“Three months ago, there was a meeting in Uttar Pradesh on the issue, but nothing has moved on the ground. If this continues, we will not hesitate to recommend strict action against the authorities concerned to the Supreme Court,” EPCA chairman Bhure Lal said.
The panel is also mulling over a proposal to roll out measures under the “very poor” category of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) from September 25, instead of the scheduled October 15, in view of Delhi hosting a few matches of the U-17 FIFA World Cup.
“We will have to ensure that the air quality does not deteriorate to an extent that we have to enforce the emergency measures under the GRAP. The states should deploy patrolling teams to check violations such as open burning of waste and dust at the construction sites,” Lal said.
A host of measures under the very poor category of the GRAP, which was drawn up by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and is being implemented by the EPCA, including the closure of the Badarpur thermal power plant, are scheduled to be initiated on October 15.
In Delhi, 40 CPCB teams have been going around the city checking violations and submitting feedback to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
But the outcome is not clear due to lack of coordination between the DPCC and the civic bodies, the EPCA was informed.
The teams share their feedback with the DPCC which, in turn, passes on the report to the authorities concerned such as the municipal bodies. But the MCD is a black hole. Once shared, there is no follow-up on their part in terms of action taken,” an EPCA member observed.
Winter is a critical time in Delhi as meteorological conditions trap air pollutants near the earth’s surface. The volume of pollutants also rises alarmingly due to the burning of paddy stubble in Haryana and Punjab and bursting of firecrackers during the festive season.
Last year, the air quality of Delhi had sharply plunged and a dense blanket of smog had kept the city shrouded for over a week in November, soon after the Diwali festivities, prompting the authorities to announce closure of schools among other emergency measures.