Centre introduces new law through ordinance to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR

New Delhi: In a bid to tackle the persistent problem of air pollution in Delhi-NCR, the Centre has introduced a new law through an ordinance which comes into force with immediate effect. Violation of the provisions entails a punishment of a jail term up to five years or with fine up to Rs one crore or with both, the ordinance released by the Ministry of Law and Justice on Thursday said.

“The ordinance may be called the Commission for Air Quality Management In National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020. It shall apply to national capital region and also adjoining areas in so far as it relates to matters concerning air pollution in the NCR. It shall come into force at once,” it said.

The ordinance was signed by the president on Wednesday.

As per the ordinance, the adjoining areas where it shall be in force include Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, adjoining areas of the NCR and Delhi where any source of pollution is located which is causing an adverse impact on air quality in the national capital region.

The commission will consist of over 20 members who will ensure strict compliance.

“Any non-compliance or contravention of any provisions/rules or order/direction of the Commission will be an offence punishable with a jail term up to five years or with fine up to Rs one crore or with both,” it said.

The members will include a chairperson, who is or has been a secretary of Government of India or chief secretary of a state, a representative of Environment secretary and five ex-officio members who are either chief secretaries or secretaries in charge of the environment departments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, it added.

The commission will also include two full- time members who have been joint secretaries to the central government, three full-time independent technical members who have specific scientific knowledge regarding air pollution, one technical member from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), one technical member nominated by ISRO and three members of NGOs having experience in matters concerning combating of air pollution.

“There shall be a full-time secretary who shall be the chief coordinating officer of the commission and shall assist in managing the affairs of the commission,” it said.

Other than these, the commission may also appoint associate members, one representative each from the Ministry of Road Transport, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and a representative of any association of commerce and industry.

The commission will have three sub-committees, one each for monitoring and identification, safeguarding and enforcement, and research and development, it said.

The commission will have power to take mitigation measures, issue directions/orders suo moto and entertain complaints under any other existing laws such as the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

It will have the power to prohibit activities that are likely to cause or increase air pollution in the NCR and adjoining areas.

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