The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday questioned the Lieutenant Governor and Delhi government’s decision to lift the ban on construction and demolition activities in the national capital, saying the air quality is still unsafe.
The green panel said that it is still not “safe” outside as the levels of particulate matter (PM) are still beyond permissible limits in the ambient air quality.
“Why have you have lifted the ban on construction activity in Delhi. How do you say it is safe outside? The levels of PM 10 and 2.5 are still five times high,” bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The tribunal said that whenever PM 10 and 2.5 are found to be in excess of 431 micrograms per cubic metre and 251 micrograms per cubic metre respectively then construction activity should be immediately stopped.
It also directed the Central Pollution Control Board to submit air quality data of Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and other places near Delhi by today.
The counsel appearing for the Delhi government informed the bench that a review meeting on the issue of air pollution was held yesterday in which a decision to lift the ban was taken.
In the meeting, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPPC) had conveyed that the pollution levels have come down and it has recorded 1/3rd fall in PM 10 level and 1/4th in PM 2.5 level last week, the lawyer said.
He said that in view of loss of income to daily wage labourers the LG has lifted the ban imposed on construction and demolition activity in the city.
The bench, however, said, “Under Industrial Disputes Act and labour laws you have wide powers. Why can’t you order the builders to pay the money to labourers in spite of stoppage of work?
“The work at construction sites has not been halted due to these people (labourers). It has been stopped because the builders have caused air pollution. They must be asked to pay wages as part of corporate social responsibility,” it said.
To curb air pollution in the capital, Lt Governor Najeeb Jung has ordered that trucks coming from other states will be allowed to enter Delhi only after midnight till January 31 next year.
Although the LG has lifted a ban on construction and demolition activity imposed last week, the ban on firecrackers and diesel generating sets will continue in the city.
(With inputs from PTI)