New Delhi: "Governments elected by people have the least concern for the health of its citizens", the National Green Tribunal today said as it passed a slew of directions including setting up of centralised and state level monitoring committees to prepare action plans to combat pollution in a bid to tackle environment emergencies.
Asking Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to consider banning 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on the roads, the green panel said, "The time has come when all concerned authorities must show concern to improve the ambient air quality in their states."
The NGT directed that every state committee should, in their first meeting, notify one district where the land use of agriculture is high and make it a model district for implementing orders to stop stubble burning.
"The basic fundamental question which arises for consideration is whether state governments and especially the Delhi government can provide scientific justification as to why the people of the national capital should be exposed to such severe pollution. The governments which have been elected by people have the least concern for the health of their citizens," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
Terming as "severe" levels of pollution when PM 10 and PM 2.5 are above 431 and 251 micrograms per cubic metre respectively in the ambient air, it said when air pollution takes such alarming proportions, immediate steps are needed to be taken as an environmental emergency.
In such situations, helicopters should be used to sprinkle water in the Delhi-NCR region, especially in those areas where pollution levels are in excess of the prescribed standard limits, the bench said.
Coming down heavily on states for not taking action against farmers burning farm residues, NGT asked them, particularly Punjab, to consider withdrawal of incentive including the grant of free power to farmers burning crops.
"In such emergency, states shall immediately provide happy seeders or other such machines in agriculture fields for removal of agriculture residue and incentives should be provided to farmers to sell their paddy straw to biomass plants, industries and board making units.
"All construction and demolition activities and transportation of construction material should be halted temporarily and stone crushers should be directed to shut down," it said.