President passes ordinance for setting up commission to deal with NCR air

Air quality in Delhi deteriorates severely in winter months every year and only then the conversation around it resumes | Image: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Sujan N

President passes ordinance for setting up commission to deal with NCR air

The President, late on Wednesday night promulgated an ordinance brought in by the Centre to institute a commission to manage air quality in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’, states that the body will be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India or the Chief Secretary to the Government of a State. It will include a representative of the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and five other Secretary/Chief Secretary level officials of the states concerned as ex-officio members.

The members of the Commission will be appointed by a selection committee, headed by the environment minister for a tenure of three years.

The commission will look into issues of stubble burning, vehicular pollution, dust pollution and all other factors that have affected the quality of air in NCR and will submit its annual reports to Parliament.

The commission will be given the authority to inspect any premises, close down polluting units. Contravention of any order or direction by the commission can result in a jail term up to 5 years and a fine up to Rs 1 crore.

All appeals against the orders of the commission will lie only before the National Green Tribunal and no other body will have the authority to pass any directions or prosecute a complaint on the pertinent issues.

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 Monday, on a PIL related to stubble burning in the NCR filed by climate activists Aditya Dubey and Aman Banka.

In his statement, the Solicitor General said that the Centre was considering bringing legislation on “Air Quality Management in the National capital Region and adjoining areas”.

The Commission is to have exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR and the adjoining areas in matters of air pollution and will be working along with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), apart from the state governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.