Delhi: SC pulls up Centre over delay in pollution-control measures
The Supreme Court on Wednesday criticized the Centre for delay in the implementation of pollution-control measures in Delhi. A special SC bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant was hearing a plea on Delhi's pollution. The petitioner is a student named Aditya Dubey (17) seeking directions regarding pollution caused by stubble burning and other agents.
Why does this story matter?
Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The national capital has witnessed 'very poor' to 'severe' air quality every day barring two this month. Delhi's Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 357 ('very poor') at 9 am on Wednesday. During winter, the city's air quality plunges further due to stubble burning from neighboring states, coal-fired plants, etc.
What did the court say?
Criticizing the Centre, Justice Chandrachud said, "This is the national capital. Look at the signal we are sending to the world." Pollution-control measures are being implemented only after the weather becomes severe, the court noted. It said that pollution-control measures should be taken in anticipation. Citing forecasts, the court also expressed concern that the air quality may deteriorate further.
Will review situation after 3 days: Centre
When the SC asked what steps the Centre is planning to take to curb pollution, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the air quality is expected to improve soon. "We will review the situation after three days," he replied.
Continue pollution-control measures: SC
The SC directed the Centre and states to continue pollution-control measures for the next two to three days. "We are not going to close this case. Even if pollution goes down now, we will continue to hear this case and issue directions," the SC added. The court slated the matter for hearing again on Monday, November 29.
Lift some bans if situation improves: SC
The SC further said if the pollution level reduces to 100, then some restrictions may be lifted. Notably, Delhi had imposed strict measures to curb air pollution. These include the closure of schools and colleges, a construction ban, work-from-home for employees, etc.
'What's bureaucracy doing?' SC on stubble burning
On stubble burning, CJI Ramana asked, "What's the bureaucracy doing?" "They can go on the field, talk to farmers, involve scientists, and take a decision." Notably, the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have been asked to submit data on the total stubble removed from these states. They were also asked to submit data on emission control methods implemented by them.
Cannot micro-manage fines on stubble burning: SC
Quoting media reports, the petitioner's counsel pointed out that farmers are not being fined for stubble burning in Punjab due to upcoming assembly polls. However, CJI Ramana replied that they are not "concerned" about it. "We are only concerned with pollution," he added. "We cannot really micromanage such things and say what fines have to be imposed," Justice Chandrachud added.
Delhi to reopen schools, colleges from Monday
Meanwhile, schools, colleges, and other educational institutions in Delhi will reopen from November 29, city Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced Wednesday. The Delhi government had on Monday lifted the ban on construction and demolition activities. On Sunday, it had extended work-from-home for employees. The ban on entry of trucks carrying non-essential items till was extended till November 26.