Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Follow construction rules: NGT to Delhi, UP, Haryana

Elaborating on its order to curtail air pollution due to dust, National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 11 issued directions to the governments of Delhi, Haryana and UP to stop any construction in NCR, which violates its rules or 2010 guidelines of the MOEF. It issued a deadline of Saturday for taking action, saying that the governments and departments concerned would be held liable if constructions continued in violation of the rules.

The tribunal also asked six court commissioners to inspect various sites to check on compliance with its order.

Meanwhile, the commissioners were told to submit a report on their inspection of various entry points into Delhi. In a drive that started on Thursday following NGT's order, traffic police impounded 363 vehicles between midnight and Friday morning.

On Friday, the Delhi government pleaded with NGT to allow essential services such as fire trucks, ambulances and vehicles carrying food items into the city, saying that six months would be needed to replace the existing fleet of diesel vehicles. NGT said the government could file an application in this regard and as long as its intent to follow the orders was clear, the court would not penalize it unnecessarily.

The tribunal will now take up the issue of air pollution in phases. On Friday, it focused mainly on dust-related pollution. In the next hearing it will take up matters related to pollution caused by open burning of waste.

NGT's order effectively makes the 2010 MoEF guidelines on construction compulsory to follow. Occupancy certificated will only be issued if this order is complied with. Delhi has been told specifically to increase its tree cover.

"Most of what NGT has been saying during the hearings is part of the MoEF guidelines. By virtue of being guidelines, it was not necessary that they be followed. The order makes that compulsory. In fact, the court specified that its order overrides any permission or clearances that a project has been granted. If there are violations, the construction has to stop," said a source.

The city, which has a single facility for processing its construction and demolition waste, has been told to immediately increase its capacity. "Delhi is producing around 4,000 MT of C&D waste each day and only 10% of this is being processed. The government needs to expand its capacity to process C&D waste," said Swatanter Kumar, NGT chairperson.

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