NGT recommends stipend for daily-wage labourers after construction ban
The NGT bench stated that the daily-wage workers are worst-affected from the ban, as they depend on construction sites to make a living.
The National Green Tribunal on November 5, 2019 recommended the central government to pay compensation or a stipend to the daily wage labourers after a ban was imposed on all construction activities in Delhi till further orders.
The Supreme Court of India had banned all construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR until further notice on November 4, after the air pollution level hit the 'severe' category in the region. The move was aimed at bringing down the pollution level in Delhi.
However, the daily-wage labourers who depend on construction activities to earn their daily wages have become unemployed as a result of the ban.
NGT order: Key Highlights
• The NGT bench headed by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel stated that the daily-wage workers are worst-affected from the ban, as they depend on construction sites to make a living and the ban has left them jobless.
• The NGT bench recommended a stipend for such workers stating that huge welfare funds are lying unused under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act.
• The green tribunal further questioned the central government for not being able to work out a system for the prevention of air pollution. The tribunal stated that the steps taken currently to bring down the pollution is like disaster management.
• The tribunal stated that the centre needs to revisit the methods to control air pollution and adopt a holistic approach to combat the issue.
• The tribunal made the recommendations while examining the measures adopted to curb air pollution in Delhi.
• For the same, the green body had asked the Delhi Chief Secretary, CPCB member-secretary, Chairperson of Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Joint Secretary in the Environment Ministry to appear before it.
Delhi government’s response to NGT
The Delhi Government, in its response to NGT, stated that the actions taken by it are deficient and that it needs to step up its efforts to combat pollution in Delhi. This was stated by Delhi Chief Secretary, Vijay Kumar Dev.
The Chief Secretary said that though coordinated actions of enforcement were done in the last four months, the actions were still deficient.
Centre’s response to NGT
The central government briefed the NGT that it has provided 50,000 machines to different states to tackle air pollution in 2019. The centre claimed to have offered Rs 1,150 crores to different states and provided 14,000 machines in 2018 to combat pollution and make the environment greener.
Panel set up to monitor Delhi air pollution
As per reports, a panel has been set up by the Prime Minister's Office to combat the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi. The panel is expected to submit a report to PM Narendra Modi within two weeks.
The panel was set up after the Supreme Court expressed serious concerns about Delhi’s worsening air quality. The court pulled up the centre, Delhi government as well as the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on the issue.
The move followed a high-level meeting called by PM Narendra Modi to discuss the deteriorating pollution levels in Delhi-NCR and various other parts of north India.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot said on November 4 that there is a lot of evidence to show that the odd-even rule has been effective in reducing pollution in Delhi. Gehlot stated that reports and data by reputed international organizations reveal a reduction in pollution levels in Delhi.
The air quality level had come down from severe to very poor by the evening on November 4. Besides odd-even, this was attributed to the high transport-level wind speed that rapidly passed over Delhi without descending.
The Supreme Court had questioned the Delhi government on its odd-even rule on November 4 and directed it to provide data proving that the scheme was effective in tackling pollution in the capital.
The odd-even rule, which began in Delhi on November 4, will end on November 15. The pollution level in Delhi is expected to drop further during the week. The MeT department has predicted that there might be more of such strong winds in the coming days.