The Supreme Court today approved measures proposed by the centre on forming a new Enforcement Task Force and flying squads to ensure implementation of air pollution norms across Delhi and NCR region.
The move comes after the Supreme Court raised questions that despite the arguments in court and various claims of the government, the ground reality on pollution was not changing and the centre’s Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) lacked enforcement powers.
The centre has now formed a five-member Enforcement Task Force and has constituted 17 flying squads. The centre plans to increase the number of flying squads to 40 over the next 24 hours. The government informed the court today that flying squads have so far inspected 25 sites across Delhi-NCR.
Flying squads will make surprise visits and inspections and will comprise officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). They will ensure compliance with rules such as ban on construction, limited functioning hours for industrial units, controlling road dust etc. They will report to the Enforcement Task Force, which will meet daily at 6 pm, either physically or via video conferencing.
Based on the report of the flying squads, the Enforcement Task Force will have the power to order closures, seizures and issue financial penalties for non-compliance.
Controlling the number of vehicles will be the state government’s responsibility.
The centre has said in its affidavit, “There are 124 number of border entry points to NCT of Delhi. The concerned State Government will ensure deployment of teams from the Road Transport Department of the concerned States along with requisite number of police personnel at every border entry point for 24 hours, in rotation. These teams shall be responsible to ensure that directions contained of the CAQM are scrupulously complied with. The police officials of each of the State Governments shall render necessary help by deploying as much personnel as is requisitioned by the Enforcement Task Force.”
The Enforcement Task Force will have five members. Dr MM Kutty, Chairperson of CAQM will also be chairperson of the Enforcement Task Force. The other four members of the taskforce will be Tanmay Kumar, Chairman, CPCB; Vibha Dhawan, DG, TERI; NK Shukla, Ex-Chairman, Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Ashish Dhawan Member, NGO representative member in CAQM. (Mr Dhawan is part of the NGO Air Pollution Action Group)
The centre said in its affidavit filed in Supreme Court, “Any dereliction in duty by any of the members of the flying squad or the implementing agency will also attract disciplinary proceedings as may be considered appropriate by the Commission in accordance with the law.”