the Environment Pollution Authority ( epa ) was set up in 1998 on the order of the Supreme Court to monitor the steps taken by the Union government and the Delhi government for controlling environmental pollution in Delhi.
The epa chairperson, Bhure Lal, at a press conference held in Delhi in the second week of April, accused the Delhi government of not implementing measures directed at curbing vehicular emissions, which constitute 70 per cent of Delhi's air pollution. Referring to withdrawal of policies like ban on the conversion of petrol engines to diesel engines and ban on registration of diesel vehicles as taxis, the epa accused the government of acting under pressure from political and transport lobbies.
"We are not happy with the withdrawal of these steps. They have been taken under political pressure and pressure from vehicle operators' unions and the transport lobby,' said Lal. It may be recalled that while the pollution control drive revolves around reducing the number of diesel-run vehicles, the Delhi government allowed registration of diesel jeeps in place of the old and polluting three-wheelers. Similarly, it is sitting on a proposed ban on plying heavy goods vehicles in the city during the daytime. The apex court has been informed about the state government's attitude, said Lal.
After the epa was established, many pollution control steps were initiated. To reduce vehicular emissions, it had directed the government to ensure cleaner fuels and removal of polluting vehicles from Delhi's roads. In the month of September last year, it ensured that the sale of leaded petrol was banned and 15-year-old commercial vehicles were phased out from Delhi. It has also ordered that the government run transport corporation buses on compressed natural gas ( cng) from April 2000.
The authority, empowered to monitor commitments of the government, felt the absence of scientific practices in the city's disposal of solid waste, though the state government has commissioned four sewage treatment plants at the directive of the authority. As a result, the utilisation of the treatment plants has gone up from 50 per cent in 1998 to 70 per cent now.
However, Lal said disposal of hazardous wastes is not up to the mark due to lack of proper segregation of bio-medical waste from other waste. For the effluent treatment of industries, the apex court ordered construction of 15 common effluent treatment plants in the capital. But Delhi government is yet to start work on them as the issues of land allotment are yet to be sorted out.