Delhi’s Air Worst Among 381 cities: World Bank

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  • The latest World Bank report on leveraging urbanisation in South Asia has identified “air pollution” as a big challenge for major cities in the region, including Delhi.
  • While Delhi is the worst among 381 cities from developing countries, 19 of the 20 most polluted cities are from South Asia, the report said quoting the recent findings of World Health Organisation report on ambient air pollution.
  • The report also mentions how for the “very poorest in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, under-five mortality is higher in urban areas than in rural settings”.
  • Referring to the WHO report with regard to the level of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 in the ambient air in cities, the World Bank said that of all the sources of congestion associated with the growth of cities, one of the most serious for health and human welfare is ambient air pollution from vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels by industry.
  • High concentrations of fine particulate matter, especially that of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM 2.5), which can penetrate deep into the lungs, increases the likelihood of asthma, lung cancer, severe respiratory illness, and heart disease.
  • “Delhi is far from unique in South Asia in having dangerously high concentrations of PM2.5. Among a global sample of 381 developing-country cities, 19 of the 20 with the highest annual mean concentrations are in South Asia.
  • And the issue is not just in India -Karachi, Dhaka, and Kabul all feature in the top 20,” the World Bank report said.
  • It said given the lack of availability of and access to clean public transport in India, one can speculate that, for any given increase in demand for mobility associated with a given increase in population density , more air pollution will occur there than elsewhere.

SC draws ‘Lakshman rekha’ on Parliament

  • Underscoring its “Lakshman rekha”, the Supreme Court said it cannot “advise” or “teach” parliamentarians about functioning of Parliament and that the judiciary would be “overstepping its limits” by making such interventions.
  • In a statement demarcating boundaries of the judiciary, a bench led by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu said that lawmakers are “people with wisdom” who “know better” about managing their affairs regarding how Parliament should function and that the court cannot “monitor” them.
  • “We know our Lakshman rekha and courts should never cross the Lakshman rekha. This court is not for monitoring Parliament and the parliamentarians. It is a democracy and in a democracy, parliamentarians know how to function. We are not here to teach them. They know better,” the bench, also comprising Justice Amitava Roy, said.
  • The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Foundation for Restoration of National Values which sought guidelines so that the public at large and the public exchequer are not adversely affected on account of Parliamentary proceedings being stalled and disrupted.
  • Representing the NGO, advocate Ravi P Mehrotra told the bench that every minute of running Parliament during the last six sessions cost an average Rs 2.5 lakh and 2,162 hours had been wasted. He contended there is a vacuum in law on this issue and, hence, an emergent judicial intervention by the apex court was imperative to restore public faith and credibility in the institution of Parliament.
  • But the bench told Mehrotra: “We will be overstepping our limits if we are going to make suggestions to say Parliament be conducted in this manner and not in that manner. No, we cannot say that.”
  • The bench also rejected Mehrotra’s argument regarding a vacuum in law on the subject. “We don’t see a vacuum in the Constitution or in the law. If you see a vacuum, why don’t you make a representation to the Speaker of the House and the parliamentarians?
  • It is for the Speaker of the House to see how Parliament has to function. And if there is a vacuum in law, Parliament will step in to fill up the lacuna. They are responsible people,” it said.
  • The bench, however, said: “If the first citizen of the country has already advised them, they would definitely take his advice seriously. But we cannot start making suggestions that Parliament should be conducted in one manner or another. We are not here to advice or are expected to advice.”

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