As pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR) reaches emergency proportions, the Supreme Court will hear a report on the issue prepared by the Environment (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).
The Supreme Court constituted the EPCA to monitor air quality and effect improvements in the NCR. As the Air Quality Index (AQI) score for Delhi crossed the 500 mark, designated as ‘severe plus’ and highly injurious to health, the EPCA designated a public health emergency in the NCR, forcing the closure of schools and a ban on construction activity and fossil fuel-powered industrial activity until November 5th. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has more than once referred to the city as a “gas chamber” amidst its plummeting air quality.
The Supreme Court will consider an EPCA report on Monday and related issues such as the burning of crop residue in neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has pointed the figure at Haryana government under Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab government under Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for the NCR’s pollution woes. Kejriwal’s accusation led to a war of words with Singh.
The EPCA did note that pollution levels have been addressed by the Delhi government since 2010. However, the national capital “still needs to reduce pollution levels by 65 percent to meet the national air quality standards” the EPCA said. Kejriwal claimed earlier this year that the efforts of his government had succeeded in effecting a 25 percent reduction in air pollution levels (although this claim was disputed by some).
On the subject of crop residue burning, the Delhi government has appealed to the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court to take action as well as state governments. 46 percent of the pollution burden in the capital is believed to be due to the practice according to the Centre’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting System (SAFAR).
“[Delhi people] making huge sacrifices,” Kejriwal tweeted.“[It’s] time [the] Captain and Khattar [governments] gave specific timelines and milestones by when will they stop crop burning. Why should Delhi suffer?”