India / New law prescribes up to 5 yrs jail, ₹1 cr fine for polluters in Delhi-NCR

Zoom News : Oct 29, 2020, 01:50 PM
New Delhi: The Union government has brought out an ordinance to set up a permanent commission for air quality management in Delhi and adjoining areas as it has become a cause of concern due to activities of stubble burning, vehicular pollution, road dust and urban construction.

The contravention of Commission's orders would be an offence, punishable with up to five-year jail or with fine up to Rs one crore or both.

A 'Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas' would be set to provide a permanent solution and establish a self-regulated, and democratically-monitored mechanism for tackling air pollution. 

This body, mainly comprising the to officers from the Centre and States, and ISRO, would replace the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, set up on January 29, 1998, by the Supreme Court in the M C Mehta case and the Justice Madan B Lokur Commission again appointed by the top court in the case of Aditya Dubey this month. 

The Law and Justice Ministry on Thursday issued the ordinance, promulgated by the President saying, "It is necessary to provide for a consolidated and conjoint approach, monitoring, tackling and researching in air pollution".

This was also essential for specifically monitoring the measures taken by the Centre and the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to prevent factors causing air pollution, including stubble burning, industrial emissions, road dust, vehicular pollution, construction activities, biomass burning and other major causes, it said.

The commission, coming into force at once, seeks to replace previous bodies to streamline public participation, the inter-state cooperation, expert involvement and persistent research and innovation, it added.

The commission would consist of a full-time Chairman, who is or has been Secretary to Union government or chief secretary of a State, a representative to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, five ex-officio members who are chief secretaries to the States, a technical member from the Central Pollution Control Board, and three members from NGOs, among others.

It would be planning and executing the programme for the region for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, besides laying down standards for air quality, and emission and discharge of pollution.

An appeal against the decision or orders by the Commission would only lie before the National Green Tribunal.

The Supreme Court had on October 26 suspended its order of October 16 appointing former judge, Justice Lokur as one-man commission to monitor the steps being taken to check stubble burning, which created a layer of smog in Delhi and National Capital Region.

The court directed to keep its order in abeyance till further directions, as the Centre, led by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said it would set up a permanent body within days by enacting a legislation to deal with annual air pollution problem arising from stubble burning in northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. 

The top court is scheduled to take up the matter on Thursday.