SC directs Centre to adopt EPCA report to tackle Delhi air pollution

New Delhi, Dec 3: Aiming to put an end to a blame game between and the centre and state administration to tackle air pollution emergencies, Supreme Court on Friday approved a comprehensive action plan.

A bench led by chief justice T S Thakur accompanied with justice A K Sikri and S A Bobde directed the centre adopt reports submitted by the Environment Pollution Board Authority (EPCA), which suggests steps when the air quality deteriorates beyond a certain level.

“Let the Centre give this plan statutory backing and notify,” the court said.

EPCA’s reports categorize four levels of air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR) centred around Delhi, based on atmospheric particulate matter (PM) levels. Particulate matter can be fine—measuring 2.5 micrometres or less and coarse—those that are 10 micrometres or less.

The plan sets in motion a series of steps that every authority—central government, Delhi government, municipal corporations and Delhi’s neighbouring states—need to take as pollution levels spike.

“For the first time a system is being created for pollution emergency response. This is also not just an advice but will have legal backing as the Union environment ministry will notify it,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

Air pollution will be classified into four categories of air quality—moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very severe or emergency.

Meanwhile, a study released by non-profit Greenpeace on Friday said that air pollution due to continued use of fossil fuels in India and China has caused an additional 1.6 million more deaths than the projected figure based on the GDP growth rate for the year 2015.

“Usually, air pollution has an inverse relationship with the country’s GDP; we find that as countries become richer they generally develop less polluting industries. But in the case of India and China, the trend has been quite the opposite: despite their economic growth, both countries have particularly poor air quality. It is clear that an economy heavily reliant on coal can only spell doom for its people,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace’s campaigner on climate and energy.

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