NGT slaps Delhi government with Rs 25 crore fine for ‘failing to check pollution’

The green tribunal gave the order in response to pleas filed by residents of Mundka and Tikri Kalan that claimed that the two places were suffering due to pollution caused by the burning of plastic, leather, rubber and other waste

By Polash Mukerjee
Published: Monday 03 December 2018
Delhi Air pollution
Smog over Old Delhi. Credit: Getty Images Smog over Old Delhi. Credit: Getty Images

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on December 3 asked the Delhi government to deposit Rs 25 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for its failure to check pollution in the city.

As per media reports, the NGT was hearing pleas filed by Mundka village resident Satish Kumar and Tikri Kalan native Mahavir Singh, alleging pollution caused by the burning of plastic, leather, rubber, motor engine oil and other waste material as well as continuous operation of illegal industrial units on agricultural lands in the Mundka and Neelwal villages. The Supreme Court (SC) is also looking into this matter, with reports on industrial and domestic waste dumping in Narela, Mundka, Dwarka and several other parts of Delhi having been filed by Bhure Lal, Chairman of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) on October 28, 2018 and on November 27, 2018.

The NGT’s order comes a week after the SC on November 26 directed the CPCB, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and authorities under the Graded Action Plan “to take immediate action for prosecution”, including directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and show-cause notices under Section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The apex court came down heavily on the enforcement agencies and the concerned parts of the local and state government responsible for the inaction on complaints received.

In the same matter, it was highlighted to the court that the accounts on social media, including Facebook and Twitter created by CPCB that are based on the directions of the SC, have received a sizeable number of complaints. Since November 5, 2018, 749 complaints had been received through social media. Of these, 500 were “attended to” by 52 CPCB teams on the ground. The remaining 249, which had been assigned to the respective nodal agencies, were yet to be resolved.

It is to be noted that the CPCB reported to the SC that between November 1 and November 24, 33,379 complaints had been received via its “Sameer App”. Of these, 923 complaints were resolved, 1,248 were attended, 349 are under investigation by the nodal agencies and 817 complaints have not yet been attended to.

There is a need for accountability on enforcement of existing laws and rules that both judicial orders reiterate. The officials responsible for implementation and enforcement of laws pertaining to control of pollution sources, such as municipal waste burning, industrial emissions and the non-legal use of vehicles must be held accountable, and such directions would ensure transparency in the resolution of any complaints pertaining to pollution.

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