Air Pollution: Green Tribunal Slams Delhi Government Over Report on Vehicles

Air Pollution: Green Tribunal Slams Delhi Government Over Report on Vehicles

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New Delhi:  The National Green Tribunal today pulled up the Delhi government over its 'incomplete' inspection report on air pollution caused by vehicles entering the capital.

The Tribunal had constituted three teams with officials from transport enforcement, Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Police to check vehicles entering Delhi at different entry points between 5pm and 7am.

The Delhi government told the Tribunal that it checked 112 trucks for the age, weight and extent of pollution caused by heavy vehicles entering Delhi.

While 97 trucks were found to be overloaded, only eight were not conforming to the permissible pollution standards, the Delhi government said.

"How can you say that 97 overloaded trucks were not causing pollution. You found 97 vehicles to be overloaded but only 8 were polluting? Why so? How is that possible?" a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

The Delhi government also told the Tribunal that the inspection team did not involve Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) officials.

"Which parameters were measured? Did you measure PM (particulate matter) 2.5? Are your officers not supposed to know what they are testing. This is the state of affairs? What are you people doing? You passed or failed a vehicle on what basis?" the bench queried.

On this the DPCC officials said they had tested the vehicles only on two parameters --opacity of smoke and carbon dioxide emissions.

"You were supposed to test seven parameters but you have based your findings only on two. You people are supposed to be experts and this is what you do?" the bench said while asking them to carry out inspections again tonight.

When the officials contended that they had no equipment to measure the other parameters, the bench said, "If you don't have the equipment why can't they buy one? You people are really good at making excuses".

With regard to DTC's plea seeking 500 acres of land from Delhi Development Authority for parking of 10,000 buses in the national capital, the authority said it was not possible for it to grant any land.

DDA's counsel Rajiv Bansal said due to Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act DDA has lost thousands of crores worth of land.

On the issue of construction of Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) and Eastern Expressway, the Tribunal slammed Haryana government and the NHAI for the inordinate delay in the work.

"You were supposed to start the work on Expressway within two months which is over in April. If there was any problem then why did you not come before us seeking extension of time.

Why should we be running after people," the bench said. Additional Advocate General Anil Grover appearing for Haryana government told the bench that work on 52-km long Kundli-Manesar section has been initiated and would be completed by January, 2016.

He told the Tribunal that Haryana government is in favour of ban on 10-year-old diesel vehicles and even supports the idea that it should be reduced to eight years.

"Work on the second stretch is yet to commence and the cabinet is likely to take a decison very soon," he said, adding it would require at least 2.5 years to be completed.

The Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway spans five districts of Sonepat, Jhajjar, Gurgaon, Mewat and Palwal.

During the hearing, the bench also said Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand's submission that most countries adopt fitness tests as a criterion for curbing pollution and not the age of the vehicle is "factually incorrect".

"According to you if 15-year-old vehicles can go then how can you say that 10-year-old vehicles cannot be banned," the bench asked the ASG.

It also directed the Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments to give clear views on variable office timings. Negating contribution of vehicles to increasing pollution levels, senior advocate Pinaki Mishra, appearing for Container Corporation of India, said "Vehicular pollution can never be 75 per cent or 80 per cent. This is why the air is so clean in monsoon".

The bench responded to his contention, saying "Why don't you ask the hospitals if the air is clear in monsoon. Everybody has their economics very clear but nobody is bothered about school children or infants suffering in hospitals."

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