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NGT blasts Delhi, Punjab, Haryana govts over air pollution, bans construction works in NCR

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As Delhi grapples with unprecedented air pollution, state governments involved with the crisis admitted that they “have not fully read” earlier court orders on curbing the disastrous air quality. The National Green Tribunal pulled up Delhi-NCR states, Punjab and Rajasthan and questioned how they have implemented their orders on vehicular pollution, waste burning, crop burning and dust pollution. NGT has also banned any kind of construction in Delhi/NCR region for the next 7 days.

The Tribunal was hearing a clutch of matters on air pollution. “How many of you have read our orders fully and then implemented them?” NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar asked counsels and top officials of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, who were all present.

“No stone crushers will be used and no garbage will be burnt for next seven days,” NGT members told the governments of five states. Furthermore, it directed the governments of these states for a coordination meeting with Delhi Chief Secretary to find a solution to the problem.

A combination of smoke from burning farm residue in surrounding states, fireworks for Diwali, dust from construction works and vehicle emissions has pushed up levels of the most dangerous particles, known as PM 2.5, to more than 15 times the safe limit.

Lawyers for the states admitted that they had “not fully read” a series of orders by the National Green Tribunal, which has demanded the compilation of a plan to ensure better coordination and cooperation between them.

“Why did you not use helicopters to sprinkle water over Delhi and its surrounding areas,” asked the tribunal, which has banned all construction and the use of brick kilns for a week.

These fine particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.

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