New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday expressed dissatisfaction over the various actions taken by the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi so far to control increasing air pollution in Delhi NCR, and asked the Chief Secretaries of the four states to be present before it on November 10 for a detailed discussion on the same.
“The Chief Secretaries of these States are expected to inform the Commission within a week positively before this discussion about the steps taken by their respective governments to stop the burning of stubble in their regions,” NHRC said in an official release.
Data on smog towers and anti-smog guns sought by Commission
The Commission also asked the states to inform about the effect of smog towers and anti-smog guns as to how many such anti-smog guns are operational and measures planned by the government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi and the concerned governments in near future.
The commission also directed that the states of Punjab and Haryana specifically inform about the effect of the scheme of in-situ management of crop residue in their respective limits.
The NHRC issued the directives in consideration of a report and the material on record received from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in response to its notice issued on June 22, 2022, following media reports which claimed that air pollution is a great threat to human health in India, reducing overall life expectancy by 5 years and 9.7 years for the people in Delhi.
Report claims overall improvement in ambient air quality in 75 cities
The MoEF&CC in its report also mentioned several steps being taken by the Centre as well as the State governments to reduce air pollution levels including the implementation of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for reducing levels of air pollution in non-attainment cities (NACS) of the country since January 2019.
The report also claimed an overall improvement in ambient air quality has been observed in 75 cities and no significant change or increase in 14- cities during 2021-22 has been noted as compared to 2019-2020. However, 18 cities, which were within the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standard (PM10 less than 60 ug/m3) in 2019-20, have shown an increase in air pollution in 2021-22.
The NHRC in its release said that the measures are taken so far but observed that these are not enough to reduce the pollution level in the NCT of Delhi, and a lot needs to be done to curb the pollution level.
NHRC says it cannot remain a mute spectator
Despite several directions from time to time, nothing much has improved and one of the major causes of air pollution in Delhi and the NCR region is crop/stubble burning in the states surrounding NCR, the commission pointed out.
With the winter approaching, the NHRC, being the premier human rights body of the country, cannot remain a mute spectator of the situation affecting the human rights of the common citizens, it said.
The air quality in Delhi- NCR has not seen the required improvement for a human-friendly environment, which cannot be allowed to remain so perpetually, the commission added.