The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed several states including Meghalaya to make “further efforts” to improve the air quality and “fully utilise” the funds received under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and the 15th Finance Commission.
The tribunal in the order passed on December 5, also instructed the states to file a further action taken report within eight weeks.
A bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava noted the deteriorating air quality from November 22 to December 4 in Byrnihat and other states in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Byrnihat, an industrial town of Meghalaya close to the border with Assam, has been categorised as the top polluting town in the country.
As per a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Byrnihat recorded the highest concentration of particulate matter PM 2.5 concentration at 217 µg/m3 till December 4.
Last month, the NGT took cognisance of the online air quality bulletins of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and directed the chief secretaries of the states where the AQI had dipped or was in the severe’, very poor’ and poor’ categories to “take all possible immediate remedial measures”.
Noting the reports filed by several state authorities, the tribunal, in its hearing on December 5, said most of the states did not “fully utilise” the funds received under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and the 15th Finance Commission.
It said only a few states utilised the funds for establishing AQI monitoring stations, while in some other states, funds were utilised for purposes not “directly connected” with the improvement of air quality.
The NGT bench said states are required to utilise the funds “promptly” for the specific purpose, without leaving any gaps.
“Funds are required to be utilised as per the approved action plan for non-attainment cities under the NCAP and action plans approved for cities not falling as non-attainment cities,” the tribunal said.
A non-attainment region is an area considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality standards.
“The cities concerned where apportionment study has not been done are required to complete the said study in respect of the factors contributing to pollution and focus on those factors which have a larger share in contribution,” the green panel said.
“Further efforts are required to ensure that the air quality improves in the cities under consideration,” it added.
The tribunal directed the states concerned to file a further action taken report within eight weeks. The matter has been listed on December 19 for further proceedings. (With PTI inputs)