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The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill 2021

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021:


Context:

The Bill was recently introduced in Lok Sabha. The focus is on better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index.

  • The bill will establish the commission and replace an ordinance.
  • The Bill has taken into consideration the concerns of the farmers following several rounds of negotiations, after they had raised concerns of stiff penalties and possible jail terms for stubble burning.

 

Applicability:

The bill will apply to the NCR and the areas adjoining the NCR in the States of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where any source of pollution is located, causing adverse impact on air quality in the NCR.

 

What is proposed in the Bill?

The bill provides for the constitution of:

  1. The commission for air quality management in NCR and adjoining areas.
  2. Three sub-committees to assist the commission, including sub-committee on monitoring and identification; sub-committee on safeguarding and enforcement; and sub-committee on research and development.

 

Need for the Bill:

Sources of air pollution particularly in the NCR consist of a variety of factors which are beyond the local limits. Therefore, a special focus is required on all sources of air pollution which are associated with different economic sectors, including power, agriculture, transport, industry, residential and construction.

  • Since air pollution is not a localised phenomenon, the effect is felt in areas even far away from the source, thus creating the need for regional-level initiatives through inter-State and inter-city coordination in addition to multi-sectorial synchronisation.

 

About the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):

The Commission was first formed by an ordinance in October 2020.

The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA had been dissolved to make way for the Commission.

  • The Commission will be a statutory authority.
  • The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.

 

Composition:

Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.

 

Powers and functions:

  1. It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.
  2. It will entertain complaints as it deems necessary for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the air in the NCR and adjoining areas.
  3. It will also lay down parameters for control of air pollution.
  4. It will also be in charge of identifying violators, monitoring factories and industries and any other polluting unit in the region, and will have the powers to shut down such units.
  5. It will also have the powers to overrule directives issued by the state governments in the region, that may be in violation of pollution norms.

 

Other key provisions of the bill:

  1. It has decriminalised the act of stubble burning and withdrawn the clause for possible jail time.
  2. It proposed to levy environmental compensation fees on those who are found to be engaged in stubble burning, including farmers.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about Pusa, a stubble burning solution? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About EPCA.
  2. About NGT.
  3. About CPCB.
  4. Overview of the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021.

Mains Link:

Why was EPCA dissolved? What has replaced EPCA? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.