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5 states didn’t comply with air quality panel’s order to curb pollution — govt report to SC

Report says that while Delhi has partially followed the steps suggested by the air quality commission, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan have been listed in the 'poorly complied' category.

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New Delhi: A status report submitted to the Supreme Court by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) shows states have hardly complied with the directions and orders issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the wake of poor air quality in Delhi.

In an affidavit given to the top court Thursday, the ministry enumerated the orders that the CAQM had issued since January 2021 and how five states/UTs  — Delhi (UT), Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab — have complied with them in each category.

The data indicates that Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have done little to ensure that industries in their states situated in the National Capital Region (NCR) switch to cleaner fuels.

Rajasthan is the only state that has complied with the CAQM’s orders to seal polluting diesel generator sets found operating in regions that are part of NCR.

On dust control measures, the report says that while Delhi has partially followed the steps suggested by the CAQM, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan have been listed in the “poorly complied” category.

Also read: Delhi-NCR families seeking treatment for pollution-related illness doubled in a week: Survey

Primary source for spike

The CAQM has identified industrial pollution as the primary source for the spike in Delhi’s air pollution.

Accordingly, the CAQM had on 12 August issued directions to Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to make industrial units in NCR switch to a cleaner fuel like PNG (Piped Natural Gas), says the report. 

Delhi is the only state where most industrial units — 1,635 out of 1,636 — have switched to cleaner fuels.

In Haryana, only 399 industrial units situated in NCR have adopted greener fuels, while over 1,480 units were required to do so, according to the CAQM.

Uttar Pradesh, too, has managed to convert only fifty per cent of factories in NCR — 1,160 out of 2,273 — to clean fuels. In Rajasthan, 191 of 525 units have complied with the CAQM guideline.

While Rajasthan has given an action plan to comply with the CAQM directive, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have not provided any such timeline, the Commission has said in the status report. 

It has also said that the states must be asked to explain why they have not taken action against industries that have remained non-compliant.

‘Why no closure?’ 

Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were at fault when it came to closure of industrial units that continue to run on polluting fuels, in spite of PNG being readily available. 

Over 220 such units were required to be closed in Haryana and 439 in Uttar Pradesh. None, however, have shut down, the Commission informed in the report.

States were also found to not follow directives about closure of units violating emission control norms. The report says that Delhi had issued closure orders to only five such units, while 10 were found guilty of non-compliance.

Similarly, Haryana ordered a shutdown of only three units despite 278 units that didn’t follow emission norms. In UP, 16 factories were closed, as against 122 polluting units and Rajasthan closed down only one such unit, while 14 were found in violation of the norms.

On the CAQM’s 16 November direction to stop diesel generators from operating, the report notes that Rajasthan is the only state to have sealed all 101 diesel generators in areas falling in the NCR. 

The Commission writes that it had not received any news from Delhi, Haryana and UP on the sealing of generator sets. A CAQM inspection team found 19 generator sets operating in Delhi, 110 in Haryana and 83 in UP.

Dust control

Although four states — Delhi, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan — impounded diesel and petrol vehicles over 10 and 15 years old respectively and imposed fine on those plying without a valid pollution control certificate, they did not promote the use of e-vehicles or zero emission vehicles, as required in a CAQM advisory issued in February 2021.

Another CAQM order issued on 11 June — to develop a web portal for the online monitoring of measures to reduce dust — has been followed by Delhi and UP. A total of 491 and 205 construction sites respectively are being monitored in the two states. Haryana and Rajasthan have not yet commissioned the project.

In February 2021, the CAQM had issued two advisories to the states, asking them to fight pollution by constituting dust management cells. After not receiving any response, the Commission in the report has asked the court to seek an action taken report from the five states. 

Stubble burning

The report also says that the implementation of an action plan to control stubble burning has not been very encouraging, with the CAQM giving a ‘very poor’ rating to Haryana, ‘poor’ to Punjab and ‘not satisfactory’ to UP.

This year stubble burning in Haryana increased by over 60 per cent, whereas a decline was witnessed in Punjab, suggests the report.

Though the cumulative fire counts came down in Punjab from 83,002 in 2020 to 71,304 in 2021, it increased by 66.27 per cent in Haryana — 6,987 in 2021, from last year’s 4,202. Instances of stubble burning decreased in UP from 407 to 252.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: SC to smog tower to AAP-Centre data slugfest – Delhi’s air pollution is a no-brainer


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