Air Pollution: Everything You Need to Know

New ordinance to curb Air Pollution

Context- Centre issued an ordinance to form new commission for air quality management in NRC and adjoining areas.

What is the new commission for air quality management?

Indian President has promulgated an ordinance to constitute a Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas.

  • The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020, released by the law and justice ministry
  • This commission for air quality management will replace the EPCA (environment pollution and prevention control authority).
  • Commission will be constituted for air quality management for better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index.
  • Area under commission– It will include representatives from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
  • Composition– A Chairperson, a representative from the Ministry of Environment, members from the state of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, technical experts from Central Pollution Control Board and Indian Space Research Organization among others.

What are the powers of the commission?

  • The ordinance makes it clear that state as well as central bodies will not have jurisdiction over matters related to air pollution.
  • The commission has been given executive powers to act upon those found violating directions set by it to curb the pollution crisis.
  • The ordinance will erase the relevance of start pollution control bodies since they do not have the powers to make any autonomous decisions anymore.
  • It will also have the power to lay down parameters of air quality and emissions, issue directions to abate pollution crisis, take up matters suo moto on basis of complaints, stop power supply or take action against any entity or industry.

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Penal power

  • There will be a penalty imposed for non-compliance to the commission’s orders.
  • The offence could be punishable with imprisonments upto a term or 5 years, with fine which may extend to RS 1 crore or more.
  • Offence under the ordinance shall be non-cognizable and be triable under the national green tribunal act in the court of the national green tribunal (NGT).

What are the challenges?

  1. Co-ordination problem– The Commission has a large number of members from the central government, which has not gone down well with the states.
  2. Rule enforcement– A major weakness, in tackling air pollution has been the inability of agencies to consistently enforce rules on the ground. For instance, factor in stubble burning or prevent pollution from thermal plants do exist, but these are often not strongly enforced always in States due to political considerations.

Issues with new ordinance-

  1. The central government has taken control over the pollution control matters in the Delhi NCR region.
  2. Limiting the adjudication to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and not any other court.

Political differences will also now play a part in the functioning of the Commission because states are not happy with the overarching powers being vested in it.

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