The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on November 17, 2016, clarified that whenever work is halted due to air pollution caused by construction activity in the national capital, it is the builder who has to face all its consequences, including payment of wages to the labourers during the period.
“It is a settled rule of environmental jurisprudence that the ‘polluter pays’ principle, covers all consequential effects of air pollution. It is the polluter who is expected to take all precautions and also face consequences. If a builder is causing pollution to ambient air quality, he has to bear all the consequences. In other words, the builder will not be able to deny wages, partially or fully, when work is stopped for causing air pollution,” the bench said in its order.
The tribunal directed the authorities concerned, to submit the minutes of the meeting of the centralised monitoring committee, formed by the NGT to prepare action plans to combat air pollution in Delhi, by November 18, 2016. It also directed the Delhi government to place its order of November 10 on air pollution, before the competent authorities, along with data on ambient quality as informed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The bench noted that as per the data submitted on November 14-15, there was a spike in particulate matter (PM) 10, which is found in dust emanating from construction activities and the details demonstrate that PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels were still 4-5 times higher than the prescribed values.
“Even today, we are informed that PM 10 is 606 micrograms per cubic metre and PM 2.5 is 147 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively, in Anand Vihar, which according to the CPCB is the worst polluted area in Delhi,” the bench said.
On November 10, the tribunal had passed a slew of directions, including setting up of centralised and state-level monitoring committees to prepare action plans to combat pollution and asked four northern states to consider banning old diesel vehicles, in a bid to tackle environment emergencies.