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Current Affairs

Commission for air quality management in NCR

Date: 10 August 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate has introduced the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021.

 

Background

Amidst the ongoing protests from the opposition, the bill was passed with full support in both the houses.

 

Details

  • The major concern that has been raised regarding the bill has been the provision that gives the commission to collect environmental compensation from farmers over pollution.

  • At present the air quality in the NCR region is monitored by the various bodies of the state pollution control boards along with Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEF), and the Supreme Court.

  • The bill will bring all the currently organized bodies under a single umbrella for monitoring air quality in an efficient and comprehensive manner.

  • The body will also relieve the Supreme Court from its duty of observing the air quality continuously through various cases.

 

Functions

  • Every year during winters, Delhi and NCR areas suffer from pollution induced due to vehicular emissions and also stubble burning.

  • Apart from monitoring air quality during winters, the commission will also suggest measures to mitigate pollution through the whole year.

 

Replaced bodies

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and pollution monitoring bodies of state governments will be consolidated.

 

Reasons

The union government feels that the EPCA has become redundant from several years and has been unable to monitor air pollution effectively. It did not have any penal provisions.

 

Concerns

  • One particular section in the bill seeks to impose penalty on farmers for stubble burning. The high imprisonment penalty is no longer there, the fines still exist.

  • At one hand the bill says that the bill provisions will not apply to famers causing stubble burning due to burning, on the other it gives the body authority to impose and collect environmental compensation from farmers.

 

Powers of commission

  • Any provisions containing in any other law will be over-ridden by the decision of the commission.

  • The decisions and orders of the commission will prevail when there will be conflict between decisions of other bodies or courts.

  • It can take up random inspections at any place and cut down power and water supply of industries not complying with its order.

 

Composition of commission

  • The chairperson should not be having less than 15 years experience in field of environmental protection and pollution control. In administration their experience should not be less than 25 years.

  • The members of the commission will also comprise of an official from the Environment Ministry, five ex-officio members (secretaries) from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

  • Independent technical member should be experts in air pollution. Other technical members are from Indian Space Research Organization, Central Pollution Control Board.

  • Non- governmental organizations working in the fields of air pollution should have three members. One representative must be from NITI Aayog.