An enforcement task force and flying squads have been formed to ensure that the air pollution norms are followed, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday. This comes a day after the apex court pulled up the central and state government over the rising air pollution levels in the National Capital Region.
Delhi and its neighbouring areas have been shrouded in toxic smog since Diwali. The pollution level has gone up in the past few days. The Capital is ranked one of the world's most polluted cities, with a hazardous melange of factory and vehicle emissions, and smoke from agricultural fires, settling in the skies over its 20 million people each winter.
The air quality in the national capital was recorded in the 'very poor' category on Friday morning while the minimum temperature was 12.5 degrees Celsius, three notches above the season's average. At 9 am on Friday, the air quality index (AQI) was 358, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed.
Here are the top 10 updates from the hearing today:
- The Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi-NCR on Friday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying it has constituted an enforcement task force to monitor compliance with its directions to control air pollution in the national capital region. In an affidavit filed before the court, the government informed that the five-member task force “will exercise powers of taking punitive and preventive measures against the non-compliant/defaulting persons/entities."
- The Commission said that an Enforcement Task Force of five members has been constituted by it in the exercise of its statutory power and 17 flying squads are constituted to act against violators. The number of flying squads would be increased to 40 in the next 24 hours, Commission told the Supreme Court. Earlier, the inspections were to be carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board and the pollution control board or committee of the respective state governments.
- According to India Today, the court allowed the Delhi government to continue with the construction activities of hospitals. The case will be next heard on 10 December.
- During the hearing, as per Bar & Bench, the apex court today lamented that it has been portrayed as villains by some sections of the media for prompting the closure of schools on account of the air pollution in Delhi. All schools in the Capital are shut from today, 3 December until further orders. This move came after the top court on Thursday slammed the Delhi government for opening schools in the capital despite severe air pollution.
- The apex court on Thursday directed the Centre and Delhi government to come out with suggestions to control the pollution within 24 hours, observing, “you cannot fire bullets from our shoulders". Stating that “we cannot…infuse creativity in your bureaucracy", the apex court warned it will have to do something extraordinary if the authorities failed to control pollution.
- The hearing comes as data from the Central Pollution Control Board revealed that Delhi's air quality in November was the worst for the month in seven years with the city witnessing severe pollution on 11 days and not a single "good" air quality day.
- The 30-day average of the capital's air quality index (AQI) stood at 376. It was 328 in 2020, 312 in 2019, 335 in 2018, 361 in 2017, 374 in 2016 and 358 in 2015, according to the CPCB.
- Delhi saw 11 "severe" air quality days in November this year, the highest in the month since the CPCB started maintaining air quality data in 2015.
- Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to the “severe” category on Thursday, with the slight drizzle recorded in the city having little impact on clearing up the pollution. Hindustan Times reports that while rains generally have a positive impact on air quality, experts said that persisting cloud cover and slight drizzle for a brief period may actually have a detrimental impact on air quality as the rain adds to the existing moisture in the air, trapping pollutants locally. The cloud cover also does not allow pollution to escape.
- Meanwhile, the Delhi government earlier this week issued an order extending the ban on the entry of trucks, barring those engaged in essential services, in the city till December 7. CNG and electric trucks will be allowed to enter Delhi. The ban on construction and demolition activities in the national capital will continue till further orders in view of the high air pollution levels.
With inputs from agencies