Air Pollution in Delhi NCR: A Socio-legal Analysis of the Environmental Impact of Infrastructure Projects​​

Abhishek Majumdar
Legal Researcher, Centre for Post-Graduate Legal Studies, TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi,  India.

Volume IV, Issue I, 2021

In 2018, the World Health Organization declared Delhi as one of the most polluted cities on the planet . Air Pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has been a bone of contention for over a decade now. It was during the year 2015-2016 when Delhi was enveloped in the worst toxic smog, that various stakeholders such as media, civil society and citizen’s groups started taking note of the precarious condition of air quality in the region, which was a result of the increase in the particulate matter (PM) concentration.

Every year starting late October, we see the governments in Delhi and the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana engaging in a “blame game”, as the Air Quality Index (AQI) drops from average to poor, to very poor, to severe. The narrative often shifts to seasonal activities such as ‘stubble (paralli) burning’ by farmers and even to bursting of crackers during the festivities. Although, these factors do contribute to the precarious condition in the region, the agencies and the masses fail to take into consideration factors which go beyond the season and contribute to the air pollution, throughout the year. 

The back-bone of economic development is infrastructure. However, infrastructure development often comes at a heavy cost for the environment. Infrastructure development projects entail in essence construction, which if not properly checked and curtailed often leads to pollution. Thus, in the present context it is important to undertake a thorough study of the air pollution in the Delhi NCR region, especially taking into consideration the infrastructure projects and their implications and how the law fails to deal with it.

Keywords: Air Pollution, Environmental Impact, Infrastructure Projects, Delhi NCR, Analysis.