New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday did not mince words in cracking down on Delhi government's plan of action to tackle air pollution. Asking it to not 'gift infected lungs to children', the NGT said emergency measures must be implemented after dangerous levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 persist for more than 48 hours.
Air pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas have become a massive concern after levels entered 'severe' last week. Even as environmental experts say no effective plan to tackle pollution is in place, Delhi government last week said it would implement odd-even traffic management system - a move first quashed by NGT almost immediately and then again on Tuesday when it heard a review petition. "Don't gift infected lungs to children. They have to wear masks to school.What constitutes a health emergency according to you?" it asked the Arvind Kejriwal-led government while hearing a review petition which sought to allow two-wheelers in list of exemptions for odd-even.
While the Delhi government withdrew its petition, it was not before NGT reprimanded it for lack of effective measures. "Measures should be applied automatically by the government after dangerous levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 persist for more than 48 hours. (And) It must take care of the logical explanations for odd-even exemptions."
The air had begun deteriorating last month and reached alarming levels in the first few days of November. While stubble burning in adjoining states and existing weather patterns have been largely blamed, there is also a large consensus that effective solutions to tackle the problem are missing.
Kejriwal, on his part, once again took to Twitter on Tuesday and informed Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh that he is travelling to Chandigrah to meet Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and that would like for him to join.
Even as meetings continue though, Delhi continues to choke. Schools which had closed for most parts of last week reopened on Monday and children across the city were seen making their way through a dense smog cover. Doctors and other health specialists have warned about the short-term impact of foul air on children, elderly and those with medical ailments, and have also highlighted long-term effects on all individuals.
Nonetheless, the coarse sound of coughing reverberates all around like a ghostly echo.