CSE welcomes NGT action agenda; appeals for more stringent measures to combat air pollution

December 22, 2014

 

  • Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) welcomes the 14-point action agenda directed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to clean up the air of Delhi. Appeals for more stringent measures to bring down the severe peak pollution levels in Delhi  
  • NGT action plan includes measures that are already a part of Delhi government’s regulations. NGT would need to ensure effective compliance and enforcement  
  • CSE appeals that NGT may also assess the effectiveness in meeting the clean air targets and accordingly increase higher degree of stringency. This needs stronger action to reduce vehicle numbers, scale up walking, cycling and public transport and leapfrog to clean emission standards. 

New Delhi, November 27, 2014: Centre for Science and Environment welcomes the move made by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to direct a 14-point action agenda to improve the air quality of Delhi.

Said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE: “While this is a step forward in right direction, a periodic assessment of the effectiveness of the action plan is needed to ensure peak pollution levels during winter are brought down and the clean air target is met. That may require additional and more stringent measures. The ambit of the action plan should also be expanded to the entire national capital region (NCR) of Delhi for effective impact.”

The NGT direction on the 14-point action agenda includes ban on 15-year-old personal and commercial vehicles; bypass of transit traffic; ban on burning of plastic; community surveillance of violation of pollution laws; prohibition on parking on carriageway or tar road; only one side of the road in the market places to be used for parking; implementation of cycle tracks; Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses to be checked for violation of emissions norms and to be taken off the road if found non-compliant; checks on overloading of trucks and installation of automatic weighing machines across the borders; and air purifiers in market places.

The key highlight of the CSE review of the action plan is as follow: 

  • Several measures in the action plan including ban on open burning, ban on 15-year-old commercial vehicles and bypassing of transit traffic are already part of Delhi government’s regulations. But these have not been enforced well. NGT’s intervention can help to ensure effective compliance and enforcement of these measures and more.  
  • All older and polluting personal vehicles require stringent action. However, polluting vehicles are distributed across vehicle vintages. This will additionally require very rigorous inspection. Also road side inspection is needed to catch, fine and weed out the visibly polluting vehicles. Similar steps will have to be taken for vehicles crossing Delhi’s borders.  
  • Some of the proposed measures may have unintended consequences and may even defeat the purpose pollution reduction. For instance, the proposed ban on parking on motorised carriageway to cut congestion without additional safeguards and riders can increase parking pressure on footpaths and cycle tracks. This will undermine zero pollution walking and cycling and also compromise public transport usage. NGT may give direction to remove all parking from footpaths and cycle tracks and make this non-negotiable. It may be complemented with strict enforcement to remove illegal parking along with effective parking charges for legal parking in public spaces — both commercial and residential areas.  
  • In addition to keeping an eye on the emissions levels of DTC buses, NGT may also broaden the scope to give direction to the DTC and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) to improve reliable bus service with adequate route coverage and frequency of bus service that can be monitored and verified. These agencies should be made accountable for improving bus service so that along with metro the share of public transport trips can be increased significantly and polluting vehicles can be reduced on roads.  
  • More stringent pollution emergency measures may be identified to bring down the peak pollution levels in the city. Soft options have all been exhausted in Delhi. The city needs aggressive and time bound action to meet clean air standards and reduce public health risk. The real time official air quality data indicate that at the onset of the winter the particulate pollution levels have started to exceed the standards several times over.
  • NGT may also broaden the scope of the action plan to include the entire NCR for effective impact. 


For more on this, please contact Souparno Banerjee at souparno@cseindia.org / 9910864339.