Among the 14 measures ordered by the green court on Wednesday was a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles older than 15 years — a move that’s likely to take an estimated 10 lakh vehicles off the road. It also barred burning of waste in the open besides placing restrictions on parking and ordering stricter vigil on overloaded trucks entering the city.
NGT, which has the powers of a civil court, sought immediate steps for building cycle tracks in the city and asked authorities to probe the possibility of installing air purifiers at marketplaces.
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The order was issued by a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar, with expert members D K Agarwal and A R Yousuf, in response to a petition filed early this year on Delhi’s air pollution by Vardhaman Kaushik.
“An article published in the Times of India today has been brought to the notice of the tribunal. It not only projects a very dismal state of affairs … with clear indication that worst is likely to follow,” the bench said.
NGT said petrol and diesel vehicles more than 15 years old shall not be permitted to on Delhi roads. These vehicles are to be seized by authorities as per the Motor Vehicle (MV) Act.
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It also ordered that the RTO shall not renew or issue registration for such vehicles or provide fitness certificates. If any such old vehicle is parked in a public area, it would towed away and challaned, the tribunal said.
“It is undisputed…that the air pollution of NCT, Delhi is getting worse with each passing day,” it stated.
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Referring to air pollution peaking in the morning hours, as reported by TOI, the order said, “This article declares that it may not be safe for residents of Delhi to go out for morning walks due to heavy pollutants present in the air.”
TOI’s report on Wednesday had displayed data from the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and Delhi Pollution Control Committee, which showed PM2.5 (fine pollution particles) peaking early in the morning, creating a health risk for those who exercise outdoors. Those exposed to air in the evenings are equally at risk of developing respiratory illnesses and complications, the data suggests.
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Delhi’s air pollution levels are comparable with Beijing which has started implementing radical measures such as shutting industries during high pollution days, putting a cap on vehicles on the road and keeping schools closed on bad air quality days.
The NGT bench went a step ahead and ordered that any person will have the right to approach the tribunal, police or DPCC to complain about open burning of plastics, leaves and other materials which can result in air pollution. It directed DPCC and Delhi government to create a web portal where the public can upload pictures of any such violations. A “special force” constituted by the government will enforce the direction and ensure compliance.
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The bench said no parking shall be allowed on tarred roads meant for regular traffic movement. “The chairperson was concerned about how Delhiites are going to cope in the high air pollution season that will last for the next six months. He was stern about immediate action on air pollution and gave the example of Lajpat Nagar, where it can take up to 40 minutes for motorists to reach the market from the main road due to congestion. He directed that parking be allowed only on one side of such roads near market areas,” said Narender Pal Singh, advocate representing Delhi government.
The bench also directed that cycle tracks be constructed in most parts of the city immediately. DPCC was asked to examine the possibility of installing air purifiers in all markets, crowded places and areas where traffic was heavy.
“We make it clear that in the event of any officer or person found violating these directions or not complying with them, we will be compelled to take coercive steps and pass such orders as may be required in accordance with law,” the order stated.