The union environment ministry has published “The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Area Ordinance” to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
As per the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’, the body will be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary, and will include the Secretary Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and five other Secretary/Chief Secretary level officials as ex-officio members.
The ordinance comes within days of a statement made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the court of the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, on a matter related to stubble burning in the NCR, in which he had said the Centre was considering bringing legislation on “Air Quality Management in the National capital Region and adjoining areas”.
The issue of stubble burning was highlighted by a 3rd-year law student, Aman Banka, and a Class XII student, Aditya Dubey through a petition filed by them seeking directions to ban stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, which causes massive air pollution in the national capital in winters.
Roles of the Commission
The commission has an objective of implementing a consolidated approach to monitoring, tackling and eliminating causes of air pollution in Delhi-NCR by coordinating with state governments.
The commission will be a statutory authority that will replace the 22-year-old Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) which has introduced several important interventions to control pollution.
The commission will have appropriate powers that can act against air pollution on a war footing and will coordinate with the NCR states and central government.
It will have the power to issue directions to various statutory authorities established under various laws.
"We welcome the speedy enactment of ‘The Commission For Monitoring The Air Quality of Delhi and Adjoining Areas Ordinance,2020’ by the Central Government. The law creates a very powerful and potent bureaucratic body to deal with the air quality of Delhi and adjoining areas. The jurisdiction and powers of the Commission are very extensive and if the Commission works with the right intent and commitment then it can make a great difference to the air quality," said Aditya Dubey.
He added, "however, we will have to wait and see how successful the Commission is in discharging its responsibilities. The choice of the first chairperson will be very important as it will give a direction to the functioning of the commission. We request the Government to proceed with the appointment of the chairperson and constitution of the commission immediately so that it can start functioning immediately to protect the citizens of Delhi NCR from the Covid explosion which is all set to happen if the AQI is allowed to remain at such high levels as exist today."