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NHRC notices to Centre, govts of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana on ‘toxic haze’

The NHRC on Thursday sent notices to the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana in view of “life-threatening” pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR region. The National Human Rights Commission also criticised authorities for not taking proper steps to tackle the “hazard”, amounting to violation of right to life and health. The rights panel sought reports within two weeks from different Union ministries and the three governments on “effective steps” being taken and proposed to tackle the situation. “The state cannot leave its citizens to die due to the toxic haze,” it said in a statement. Notices were issued to the secretaries of the Union ministries of environment, health and highways and road transport along with the chief secretaries of the governments of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana.

The Commission said it has taken a serious view of the “life-threatening” pollution in Delhi-NCR. “It is apparent that the authorities concerned have not taken proper steps throughout the year to tackle this hazard, which is amounting to violation of the right to life and health of the residents in the region,” the NHRC observed. The panel said it expected the health secretary to give details about the preparedness of government hospitals and other agencies to attend to those affected by pollution and steps taken to create awareness among the public.

It said there is immediate need for effective action by agencies at the Centre and states. Proper implementation of environmental laws is necessary, the statement said.

“There is a need for an effective study by experts and proper implementation of their recommendations, including short-term and long-term measures. There is also a need for preventive medical check-ups for the people,” the panel said.

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