The Central government has informed the Supreme Court on December 2 that a five-member task force has been constituted to curb the air pollution in Delhi NCR.
According to the affidavit, the Commission for Air Quality Management and Central Government has immediately taken steps to further augment the implementation of directions by the Commission with a view to achieve the desired results as improving the air quality.
An Enforcement Task Force of five members has been constituted by the commission in the exercise of its statutory power, said the affidavit.
It is submitted that earlier the inspections were to be carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board, respective State Government, and their State Pollution Control Board/committee. It is further submitted that now 17 flying squads are constituted which will directly report to the Enforcement Task Force of the Commission and the Enforcement Task Force itself will exercise powers of taking punitive and preventive measures against the non-compliant / defaulting persons/entities.
The enforcement task force will be headed by CAQM chairperson M.M. Kutty. CPCB chairman Tanmay Kumar, Vibha Dhawan DG TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), N.K. Shukla, former chairman of Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Ashish Dhawan, CAQM NGO member, will be members of the Enforcement Task Force.
The number of Flying Squads would be increased to 40 in the next 24 hours. The said Flying Squads have already started functioning from December 2, 2021 itself and have conducted surprise checks at 25 sites. The Commission has further directed that industrial operations and processes in NCR, where gas is not available and the said industrial unit is not running on PNG or cleaner fuels shall be allowed to operate only up to 8 hours a day during weekdays and shall remain closed during Saturday and Sunday, the Central states.
Further, the operation of thermal power plants within three hundred kilometers of the radius of Delhi shall continue to be regulated in terms of commissions latest order dated November 30, 2021, whereby, only five out of eleven thermal power plants, have been permitted to schedule their operations and the rest have been directed to remain inoperative till at-least December 15, 2021.
The Union also apprised the Top Court that all schools and colleges in NCR shall remain closed till further orders, allowing only online mode of application except for the purpose of conducting examinations and laboratory practical, etc. and entry of trucks in Delhi shall not permit, except for CNG and electric trucks and trucks carrying essential commodities.
Earlier, the Supreme Court expressed deep anguish at the pollution levels not coming down despite the claims made by the Centre, Delhi Government, and the adjoining NCR states.
The Apex Court was hearing a matter related to construction in Delhi-NCR which was banned by the top court in view of the deteriorating air quality.