Delhi AQI Crosses Extreme Level: Are Delhiites Prepared for New Norms?

by Rashi Shukla
Low visibility due to Smog at New Delhi Railway station

Delhi is yet again suffering from a serious rise in the air pollution index. To tackle this growing issue of air pollution in NCR and adjoining areas an ordinance has been passed to form a commission for Air Quality Management under this new law.

Featured Image Credits: Sumita Roy DuttaCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Over 20 permanent member commissions have been formed under the law for better coordination, research, and resolve the issue of the growing air quality index. Any violation of the rules will be a punishable offense with a sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to one crore or both. Not only the commission will have the power to take measures to alleviate the problem, give orders, or consider complaints but it can outlaw activities that can cause or have a part in increasing the pollution in NCR and adjoining areas.  

There are many reasons along with increased traffic, stubble burning, and the ongoing festive season. So how much effect this new law will have, how is it different from the existing laws, and what will be the role of the commission in tackling this serious issue. Let us look deeper into that.

The new laws will act as the legal outlook for the commission. The government released a dynamic body that individually tackles the problem of growing air pollution in Delhi NCR and its adjoining areas are missing. To fill that gap the commission was created so that Supreme Court does not have to spend its time creating ad-hoc bodies to handle the issue. 

Power and Functions of the New Commission

The commission has to handle, research and monitor the steps taken by the state governments against industrial emissions, vehicle pollution, road dust, stubble burning, construction activities, and many such sources of pollution. The nodal authority of the commission will be the union environment ministry. The commission will consist of 18 members along with the head chairperson who can be a serving or Ex-Secretary to the Government or State Chief Secretary. 

As mentioned in the ordinance, the commission will have the power to protect and improve the air of NCR and its adjoining areas. And, the decision of the commission will oust the state government in case of any disagreement. The commission has the power to ban or restrict activities, form investigative teams to handle the issue, inspect plants, factories and issue particular directions to any authority or person. The commission will also give an annual report to the center before the parliament about their actions and research activities to tackle the problem of air pollution. 

Punishment and Penalty enacted by the Commission

Any violation of the orders by the commission will be an offense with a maximum of up to five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of up to one crore rupees or even both. But the police can not make an arrest without a warrant and without a court order, no further investigation can be initiated and the person has to go under a trail before the judicial magistrate. 

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