Health Emergency in New Delhi
- 02 Nov 2019
- 4 min read
- Recently, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority- EPCA declared a public health emergency in New Delhi as pollution levels entered the ‘severe plus’ category.
- An Air Quality Index (AQI) above 500 falls in ‘severe plus’ category. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall AQI score of New Delhi crossed 500 mark.
- Deterioration in air quality is due to a combination of several factors:
- Local pollution produced by vehicular and industrial pollution. It got further spiked by bursting of crackers on Deepavali.
- Stubble burning in states of Punjab and Haryana: CPCB held that stubble burning contribution to pollution has gone up to 45%, resulting in the high particulate matter concentration.
- Extremely adverse weather conditions: Northwesterly winds brought high quantities of smoke from Punjab and Haryana to Delhi-NCR.
- Symptoms associated with this pollution are irritation in the eyes and throat, dry skin, skin allergies, chronic cough and breathlessness.
- Government has taken a series of incremental steps as the quality of the air deteriorates. For Example:
- Odd-even scheme: Under the scheme, vehicles with odd last digit in the registration number will ply on odd days and those with even last digit on even days
- Imposition of Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) at toll plazas.
Environment Compensation Charge
- Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) is a Supreme Court directed green tax.
- Green Taxes are one of a variety of policy measures formulated by the government to control activities that affect the environment.
- It is a type of ‘cess’ which has no legislative backup that usually accompanies the imposition of tax on public activities.
- A cess is usually imposed additionally when the state or the central government looks to raise funds for specific purposes.
- Distribution of N95 mask: A disposable N95 mask is a safety device that covers the nose and mouth and helps protect the wearer from breathing in hazardous pollutants like PM 2.5.
- Under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) schools are shut down till the air quality remains severe
- GRAP is an emergency action plan in Delhi to tackle rising air pollution.
- It was prepared by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) after the order of Supreme Court of December 2016.
Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority
- EPCA was constituted under section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the National Capital Region in compliance with the Supreme Court order dated January 1998.
- It has the power suo-moto, or on the basis of complaints made by any individual, representative body or organization functioning in the field of environment.
- It takes all necessary steps to for controlling vehicular pollution, ensuring compliance of fuel quality standards, monitoring and coordinating action for traffic planning and management.
Central Pollution Control Board
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974.
- The CPCB is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.