The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday reprimanded several states for the declining Air Quality Index (AQI), stating that the action taken reports submitted do not indicate efforts toward improving air quality.
During the hearing, the tribunal led by Justice Prakash Shrivastava expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of visible improvement despite their earlier directives. Notably, the reports on action taken primarily cover activity until October, when the situation wasn’t as severe. The NGT was especially concerned about areas like Bhiwani, Bathinda, Bulandshahar, and Churu, which continue to exhibit poor air quality.
The bench scrutinised various regions, expressing disappointment over the lack of improvement in Punjab and Haryana, specifically highlighting areas like Amritsar and Bathinda, where the situation remained unchanged.
“Is there any improvement in any place? Point out one city where situation has improved? No improvement in Amritsar.. Bathinda remains in poor category… We showed you satellite image last time, What is shown in report and shown in satellite image does not match,” the tribunal remarked.
“What will happen to residents of city in Punjab. Cities in Punjab are engulfed in smoke. It rained today and ‘GOD CAME TO YOUR RESCUE’ because he (God) also realised that nothing is being done at your end,” the bench rebuked.
The tribunal further underscored the severity of the situation in Haryana, particularly in Fatehabad, which has continued to experience severe pollution levels since 3 November.
Despite reviewing replies from several states, the NGT reserved its order on the matter.
During the previous hearing, the tribunal stressed the urgent need for immediate action due to the alarming conditions reflected in various cities’ air quality bulletins. It urged swift measures for the prevention and control of air pollution to ensure better air quality for residents.
The NGT, led by Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava, alongside Sudhir Agarwal and A Senthil Vel, acted based on Air Quality Bulletins from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The reports, covering 20 October, 2023, to 1 November, 2023, highlighted numerous cities experiencing deteriorating air quality, with several reaching “very poor” or “severe” levels.
Acknowledging the seriousness of the issue, the NGT summoned Chief Secretaries of concerned states, the Chairman of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), the Member Secretary of the CPCB, and the National Task Force’s head secretary. The tribunal demanded their responses and directed remedial action, seeking compliance with its directives issued over time to address the worsening air quality.