India’s top environmental tribunal has ordered the Delhi government to pay ₹250 million to the national pollution control agency so it can tackle the city’s air problem

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  • The National Green Tribunal slapped a fine of ₹250 million on the state government of Delhi, which is run by the Aam Aadmi Party, citing its failure to curb pollution.
  • The bench deliberating on the issue said that the Delhi government would have to hand over the funds to the Central Pollution Control Board, an anti-pollution agency housed under the environment ministry.
  • The CPCB will then use the funds to implement its own pollution control measures. The AAP will also have to furnish a performance guarantee for the fine in a month, which will be encashed if the amount isn’t submitted in three months.

Delhi’s air pollution crisis has been well-documented. With the city’s level of air quality walking the tightrope between “poor” and “abysmal” and a government that seems incapable of implementing any effective measures to improve it, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a special tribunal focusing on environmental issues, has finally decided to take some action.

Yesterday, the NGT slapped a fine of ₹250 million on the state government of Delhi, which is run by the Aam Aadmi Party, citing its failure to curb pollution, according to the Press Trust of India. The move followed the submission of a compliance affidavit by the Delhi government which the tribunal deemed insufficient.

In response, the Delhi government has reportedly said that its dealing with a problem that’s largely the result of activities that do not take place within its jurisdiction. While this is true of the crop burning in neighbouring states, the government has failed to take action against polluters within city lines.

The case was triggered by the submission of a plea by residents of the city that related to the operation of illegal smelters and units burning plastic and leather on Delhi’s outskirts.

The Delhi government was meant to take action against these units a while ago, and has hence, been instructed to submit an action plan to the NGT with the names of the officers and civic organisations responsible for carrying out anti-pollution work in the city and the reasons for their ineffectiveness.

The bench deliberating on the issue, which was led by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said that the Delhi government would have to hand over ₹250 million to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), an anti-pollution agency housed under the environment ministry.

It has suggested that the Delhi government, which is in the middle of a funding crunch, pay for the fine by deducting the salaries of government officials tasked with implementing anti-pollution measures and by fining polluters.

The CPCB will then use the funds to implement its own pollution control measures. The AAP will also have to furnish a performance guarantee for the fine in a month, which will be encashed if the amount isn’t submitted in three months.

In its defence, the AAP has been trying to implement steps to improve the city’s air quality although it will likely be a while before any discernible improvement takes place. Earlier this week, it slapped fines on construction companies for violation of air pollution norms. It is also in the process of drafting a plan to make electric vehicles account for a quarter of all the vehicles on Delhi’s roads within the next five years.


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