Centre gets notice over air pollution

Centre gets notice over air pollution

SC also seeks replies from Delhi, neighbouring states

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Union government, and others on a plea raising issue of alarming rise in pollution of Delhi’s air which is seriously affecting health of the denizens, besides causing premature death of 3,000 children annually.

A three-judge green bench presided over by Justice A K Patnaik also sought a response from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan within three weeks on a plea made by amicus curiae Harish Salve.

Salve submitted the alarming findings through the latest report of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital Region. The report pointed out that Delhi was able to arrest and lower pollution in its air as it started CNG as fuel for transportation but could not sustain these gains as the amount of pollution in air was increasing again due to growing number of vehicles.

“Since 2007, particulate levels have increased dramatically by 75 per cent. During the same decade (2002 to 2012), vehicle numbers have increased by as much as 97 per cent, contributing enormously to pollution load and direct exposure to toxic fume. Studies show that about 55 per cent of Delhi’s 17 million people who live within 500 metres from any road side are directly exposed to toxic vehicular fume,” it said.

It also contended that the high CNG cost had hurt public transport and undermined the programme for clean fuel as over time the price gap between CNG and diesel fuels has narrowed considerably. The gap between CNG and diesel has been raised from 7.35 per cent to 35 per cent in this month only after the most recent intervention to reduce CNG prices by Rs 15 per kg.

Among the measures, the amicus curiae sought a direction for higher taxes on car owners and a time-bound action plan for augmentation of public transport services and necessary action to remove entry taxes on public transport buses across borders.He referred to a 2010 study by Health Effect Institute, Boston, estimating at least 3,000 premature deaths annually due to air pollution related diseases here.

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