Delhi pollution: Supreme Court gives Centre 48 hours to respond, NGT bans all construction for 7 days

By Times Headline Writer

Owing to the worsening Delhi pollution level, the National Green Tribunal has banned any kind of construction in Delhi/NCR region for the next 7 days.

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to devise a common minimum programme to deal with pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region in the next 48 hours.

The apex court has asked the Centre to apprise it about the policy, if any, to tackle the issue of rising pollution in Delhi.

Earlier today, the National Green Tribunal banned any kind of construction in Delhi/NCR region for the next 7 days.

The NGT has asked five states – Rajasthan, UP, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi – to do a coordination meeting with Delhi chief secretary if necessary.

It has also advised all the 5 states to not burn their waste crops and find a solution as soon as possible.

For more than a week, New Delhi’s skies have been filled with a thick haze that has made people’s eyes sting and their throats sore. Air pollution experts blame myriad pollution sources, from diesel-burning cars and seasonal crop burning to garbage fires and stoves fueled with kerosene and cow dung. Winter weather patterns also mean there is less wind to circulate the air.

Doctors urged people to avoid going outdoors unless they wear face masks.

There are no official air pollution monitors set up in the Delhi suburban areas, but in both New Delhi and Lucknow, the levels of PM2.5 – tiny particulate matter that can clog lungs – were at least above 400 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday. That’s more than 40 times what’s considered safe by the World Health Organization, and more than six times the limit set by Indian law. Some monitoring points were registering much higher levels.

New Delhi has also ordered the temporary closure of a nearby coal-burning power plant, as well as construction and demolition sites blamed for sending huge plumes of fine dust particles into the air. It also ordered that roads be doused with water to settle dust, and banned diesel-powered electricity generators for 10 days except at hospitals and cellphone towers.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear a plea demanding that authorities do a better job of monitoring air quality and take more serious steps to cut pollution. The Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based research and lobbying organisation, said government data shows that the smog that has covered the city for the last week is the worst in 17 years.

(With inputs from news agencies)

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