Centre sets up commission to tackle NCR pollution #GS3 #Environment

Dissolving the 22-year-old Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority that has so far addressed air pollution in Delhi, the Centre has constituted a “permanent” body — Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.
Encompassing Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the all-powerful body assumes several powers to coordinate action among States, levy fines — ranging up to Rs. 1 crore or five years in prison — to address air pollution. Brought in via an ordinance on Thursday, the commission awaits a formal perusal by the Supreme Court before it can be brought into effect.
The panel will have at least six permanent members and will be headed by a former or incumbent Secretary to the Central government, or a Chief Secretary to a State government. It will have members from Ministries as well as representatives from States.
The Central Pollution Control Board and its State branches have the powers to implement provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act for air, water and land pollution. In case of dispute or a clash of jurisdictions, the commission’s writ will prevail specific to matters concerning air pollution.
A major weakness, environmentalists and experts have said in tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR, has been the inability of agencies such as the CPCB to consistently enforce rules on the ground.
Rules enforcement
A senior government official said the commission will be empowered to constitute special investigative groups for stricter implementation, but the letter of the ordinance has no such details.
“EPCA had almost similar powers but failed miserably in cleaning the air even after being in force for more than 20 years. The question of whether it’s a positive move or just a wasteful exercise will be decided on the fact whether the ordinance changes the status quo when it comes to ground implementation,” said Sunil Dahiya, analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal and member Sunita Narain said in a letter to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday that they “welcomed” the creation of the new commission.
Describing the commission as a “bureaucratic vessel”, Navroz Dubash of the Centre for Policy Research said in a statement: “The fact that it was created practically overnight, with no discussion and input, does not inspire confidence that it will open the doors to a more fruitful conversation and action across all interests.”