Delhi govt fined Rs 25cr for failing to curb pollution

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On December 3, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped a fine of Rs 25 crore on the Delhi government for failing to curb the city's air pollution.

The tribunal also asked the Arvind Kejriwal-led government to furnish a performance guarantee of Rs 25 crore with the pollution control board to prevent further lapses in this matter, PTI reported. This is a means to ensure the government takes definitive steps to fighting air pollution.

This order follows on the heels of a Supreme Court directive to the CPCB to prosecute government officials who failed to respond to more than 250 complaints from citizens about Delhi's deteriorating air quality.

A bench of Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justices S.P. Wangdi, K. Ramakrishnan and Expert Member Dr. Nagin Nanda passed the orders while taking up compliance with the tribunal's orders. He said enforcing agencies were "completely dormant" and bodies like the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) were indulging in a blame game.

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Ironically, the EPCA itself has been accused of adopting a gentle approach when dealing with offenders, despite having been specifically empowered to take strict action. Authorities have predicted a further drop in air quality thanks to the release of more pollutants in the coming week. Delhi's air quality has been in the "very poor" category for the past one week.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded an overall AQI of 314, which falls in the "very poor" category. In an affidavit filed in the court, which is seized of matters related to pollution in Delhi-NCR, the CPCB said that "of 749 complaints received on social media and e-mails till 22 November, 2018, about 500 complaints (67 per cent of the total) were attended to by 52 teams of CPCB while associating with clean air campaign during 1-10 November, 2018".

Ghaziabad and Noida recorded "very poor" air quality. The PM2.5 level was recorded at 174 μg/m and the PM10 level at 358 μg/m, according to the Indian Express.

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