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Rights body notice to states over toxic air


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New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said it has asked chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to be present before it either personally or virtually on November 10 for a detailed discussion over air pollution.

According to a statement issued by the NHRC on Friday, the notice was issued as it was not satisfied with the various actions taken so far to address severe air pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

“The Chief Secretaries of these States are expected to inform the Commission within a week positively before this discussion about the steps taken by their respective governments to stop the burning of stubble in their regions,” the Commission said.

Their reports must also inform about the effect of smog towers and anti-smog guns as to how many such anti-smog guns are operational and what further steps Government of NCT of Delhi and the governments concerned are taking in near future, it said.

The report of Punjab and Haryana must also specifically inform about the effect of the scheme of in-situ management of crop residue, the statement said.

The Commission has given these directions after consideration of a report and the material on record received from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in response to its notice issued on June 22 after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports alleging that air pollution is a great threat to human health in India, reducing overall life expectancy by 5 years and 9.7 years for the people in Delhi, it said.

The rights body noted the measures taken so far are not enough to reduce the pollution level in NCT of Delhi.

“It is of the considered view that much more needs to be done to reduce the pollution level immediately,” the Commission said.

The NHRC also observed that Article 47 of the Constitution reposes duty upon the state to raise the standard of living and to improve public health. Besides, any disturbance of the basic environment elements viz., air, water and soil, which are necessary for life, could be hazardous to life within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution.

Despite several directions from time to time, nothing much has improved and one of the major causes of air pollution in Delhi and NCR region is crop/stubble burning in the states surrounding NCR, it said.

It has been further observed that with the winter approaching, the NHRC, being the premier human rights body of the country, cannot remain a mute spectator of the situation affecting the human rights of the common citizens, the statement said.

It is of the considered view that notwithstanding several directions of the Supreme Court, National Green Tribunal and other authorities, the air quality in Delhi- NCR has not seen required improvement for a human-friendly environment, which cannot be allowed to remain so perpetually, it said.


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