SC to seek public’s interest into Air Pollution: Delhi

The Supreme Court has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CAQM) to seek public and expert input on how to battle air pollution.

The Supreme Court asked the Commission for Air Quality Management on Thursday to invite public and expert suggestions on a permanent solution to the problem of air pollution in Delhi-NCR, in an attempt to mitigate the rising levels of pollution in the national capital.

A bench led by Chief Justice N V Ramana heard a report from the commission in which it was informed that the ban on specific businesses had been lifted.

According to the bench, which also included Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, “The report of the committee outlines the steps that have been done”.

It has been indicated that a decision will be made tomorrow about building activity. The matter will be listed in the first week of February. Meanwhile, we urge the panel to seek public and expert recommendations for a long-term solution to the contamination”.

The air pollution case has now been scheduled for hearing in the first week of February 2022, according to the Bench.

The commission stated that a judgement on whether or not to lift the restriction on further construction activities in Delhi-NCR will be made by tomorrow. The 40 flying squads conduct regular inspections, according to the Solicitor General.

The Solicitor General also told the Bench that thermal power facilities that were shut down are still being shut down, but that no new ones will be built as planned with the Power Ministry.

The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions for emergency measures to address the deteriorating air quality in the national capital region.

Meanwhile, according to new research by the NCAP Tracker air pollution policy tracking website, Delhi has failed to reach the CPCB’s yearly average safe limit of nitrogen dioxide – 40 micrograms per cubic metre – since 2013.

From 2013 to 2020, average annual NO2 levels in the national capital ranged from 61 micrograms per cubic metre to 73 micrograms per cubic metre.

The capital recorded an annual average NO2 concentration of 61 micrograms per cubic metre in 2020, the lowest in the last 8 years.

This shows that despite the complete nationwide lockdown which halted all transport, industrial activity and many other NO2 emitting sources for three months, the year’s average could not be anywhere close to the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) safe limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

Delhi recorded a gradual increase in average annual NO2 levels from 2015 to 2018, with 2018 and 2019 recording 73.66 micrograms per cubic metre and 71 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively.

During the lockdown, the NO2 in the city outflow was also significantly reduced due to restrictions on traffic movement.

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