MoEF to table Bill for panel on NCR air pollution; Bill on air quality commission drops clause on jail term.

Source – The Indian Express

Introduction –
  • During the Monsoon Session, MoEF [Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change ] plans to introduce the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas Bill in Parliament.
  • MoEF had earlier brought in an ordinance regarding the Commission twice, first in October 2020 and again in April.
  • Subsequently, the MoEF brought ordinance with modifications due to the farmers’ protest. Farmers had raised concerns of stiff penalties and imprisonment for stubble burning
Key changes in the Commission for Air Quality Management
  • Decriminalized the act of stubble burning
  • Withdrawn the clause for possible jail time

However, those who are discovered to be participating in stubble burning, including farmers, will be charged an environmental compensation fee.

About the ordinance-
  • It provides for the constitution of a Commission for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of air quality problems in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas.
  • Further, it abolishes the Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority [EPCA], which had proven effective with the passage of time.
    • It will establish guidelines for air pollution control, such as allowable amounts of emissions and pollution discharge.
    • The commission will be responsible for finding offenders, monitoring companies and industries, as well as any other polluting unit in the region, and having the authority to shut them down.
    • The Commission will also have the authority to overturn orders made by state governments that may violate environmental standards.
Way forward-

The ordinance is a great step forward because it was developed after extensive consultation with all stakeholders, including farmers’ groups, small businesses, and the public.

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