Delhi Air Pollution - Need for Administrative Alterations

March 19, 2018
11 months

What is the issue?

  • Air pollution in Delhi is being recognised as one of the biggest public policy challenges that India is facing.
  • However, the shortfalls in the existing mechanism and approach call for course corrections.

What is the present mechanism?

  • The present institutional framework includes the government at three levels, the Centre, the Delhi government and local municipal corporations.
  • It also involves three entities on the judicial side, the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and the National Green Tribunal.
  • Then there are the three regulatory/enforcement bodies -
  1. the Central Pollution Control Board
  2. the Delhi Pollution Control Committee
  3. the SC-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the NCR Region (EPCA)

What are the shortfalls?

  • Administrative - The primary reason for the inability to respond in a coordinated manner is the multiplicity of actors involved.
  • Evidently, there are a number of entities working, but with little coordination.
  • There is also lack of clarity on who should be held accountable, as dissipated authority leads to dissipated accountability.
  • Approach - There are few signs of intervention for pollution control in the ground level.
  • Most of the interventions at present lack any evidence-based approach.
  • There is lack of proper evaluation on the effectiveness of the efforts and measures carried out.
  • There is little clarity even on what is causing pollution in the first place.
  • The studies done so far lack the quality and depth to unequivocally establish the pollution sources and their respective contributions.

What is desired?

  • Single Agency - A single empowered agency under the Union government to deal with the issue on a war footing is required.
  • Importantly, the leadership role of such an agency should be clear and unambiguous.
  • Centre - The central government control is essential because pollution is a problem irrespective of geographical boundaries.
  • Evidently, Delhi’s problem has its genesis partly beyond the city’s borders.
  • Also, any solution will have components beyond the administrative and financial capabilities of regional/local governments.
  • Executive control - The agency has to be fully under the control of the executive.
  • It should be appointed by it and be answerable to it.
  • There is space for judicial intervention but it has to happen in a manner that does not force initiative from the executive.
  • Judiciary - The SC has shown initiative and leadership in bringing the pollution issue to the forefront.
  • But it should not take policy-making away from the executive which is assigned for that role.
  • Court's nature of intervention has to change, and it should transform its role from that of a policy analyst or a problem solver.
  • It should only be an institution that protects citizens' rights by holding the governments of the day accountable.


Source: Indian Express

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