Court tells Delhi govt to set ‘measurable targets’ to mitigate air pollution in Delhi
New Delhi: Delhi high court on Wednesday directed the Delhi government to formulate “measurable targets” to mitigate air pollution in the state in a time-bound manner.
Consequences should be borne by officials if they fail to implement and enforce such measures, the court said while hearing a suo-moto petition.
“Such targets should be action-based and realistic.. do not set impossible goals,” said the Court.
Counsel for Delhi government proposed procurement of 2,000 CNG-propelled standard low floor buses, 100 low-floor electric buses and 500 electric buses. An expenditure of Rs120 crore and Rs400 crore would be borne out of environment compensation charge (ECC) for low-floor electric buses and electric buses, respectively, counsel informed the court.
A bench comprising judges S. Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva remarked that procurement of these buses cannot be a mitigation plan against air pollution in Delhi. The need for better public transport arises from the “normal need” of the city and not poor air quality, said the court.
“Funds for these new buses should be made available from the appropriate budget and not ECC…diversion of funds from ECC for such purpose defeats the object for which ECC was created,” the court said.
For future hearing in the matter, the court identified four issues, namely, forest cover, pollution mitigation, vehicles and other related issues such as construction work and garbage burning. Each issue would be heard separately.
Earlier this month, to mitigate air pollution in Delhi, the court issued several suggestions to the Delhi government such as “cloud seeding”, re-introduction of “odd-even scheme” and a complete ban on further civil construction activities for the time being, including a direction to fill all open “dug ups” and pits within three months.
It also directed an urgent meeting of chief secretary of the ministry of environment and forests with the chief secretaries of neighbouring states namely, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to decide on a plan to bring down the air pollution level within acceptable limits.
The next hearing will be on 14 December on the issue of forest cover.