Toxic Air: SC issues directives to curb Delhi-NCR air pollution

On Monday, the AQI at 4 pm in Delhi read 416, which is still in the 'severe' category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Delhi_pollution
Delhi_pollution

In the wake of deteriorating air quality since Diwali in Delhi, the Supreme court today raps up the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and UP to respond on crop stubble burning despite orders against it.

On Monday, the AQI at 4 pm in Delhi read 416, which is still in the ‘severe’ category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Supreme court questioned the Delhi government odd-even schemes and also issues a list of directives to control the entry of heavy diesel vehicles and to take stock of the industries that contribute to pollution.

The Supreme court issued a list of directions on Monday, considering the harm that air pollution is causing in Delhi NCR. The court also expressed its displeasure at the negligence of earlier directions by government bodies.

The key directions comprise:

  • Chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, and UP are summoned on November 6 to brief the court on measures to curb crop stubble burning.
  • Directs collectors and police officials to ensure that no further crop stubble burning takes place. Gram Pradhans and local administration will also be held responsible if stubble burning takes place.
  • Delhi government has been directed to take suggestions from experts and work with other bodies to tackle the problem of garbage. EPCA to assist in preventing the entry of heavy vehicles.
  • Directs ban on construction and demolition activities in Delhi and NCR. local administration would be penalized one lakh rupees in case of violation.
  • Puts a stop on coal-based industries. Will be penalized if not followed.
  • Municipal bodies directed to prevent open dumping of garbage.
  • Directs sprinkling of water on roads and planning of traffic to reduce congestion in order to prevent road dust. To be taken up by the Delhi police.
  • Bans use of diesel generators in Delhi NCR until further orders.
  • State governments should form a high-level committee to deal with the crisis.

The people are advised by the SC not to enter Delhi or leave their homes in Delhi. The bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta, considered the issue of air pollution in Delhi-NCR in the wake of the EPCA declaring a public health emergency taking note of the severely deteriorated air quality. The bench also observed that the life span was coming down due to pollution.

The bench questioned the Delhi government’s odd-even vehicle scheme, which kicked off on Monday and asked it to submit the data of pollution levels of previous periods when the scheme was initiated to curb air pollution.

Justice Mishra said that Delhi has been choking, Delhi chokes every year but the Delhi govt and the center are only seen passing the buck. He said this before the bench summoned experts to address courts on the issue.

Delhi-NCR has been in a thick blanket of smog since the festival of Diwali on October 27. On Sunday, the national capital’s average air quality index (AQI) stood at 494, the highest since November 6, 2016 when it was 497.

The court has asked the state concerned to prepare a roadmap within three weeks to prevent a situation that is presently prevailing in the region due to toxic air quality.

“Let the state governments of Punjab, Haryana, and UP explain why they should not be asked to pay compensation as they have totally failed to implement the order against stubble burning”, ordered the court.

“Time has come to seek accountability for the gross violation of Article 21. Farmers cannot seek protection. Through satellite images, it has been seen that widespread burning took place in Punjab while four districts were involved in Haryana. Pollution is causing problems for neighboring states. Everyone from chief secretary to Gram Pradhan is answerable” observed Justice Mishra in the order.

Article 21 states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”

“It cannot be done in a civilised country, If people do not respect the rights of others, then they also have no rights. The right to life is the most important right. No room is safe to live in Delhi. People are not safe even inside their houses. It is atrocious,” the bench said.

“The air quality index (AQI) level in bedrooms is above 500-600. This is the figure in Lutyens Delhi. Can we survive this? This is not the way we can survive. People are losing precious years of their life due to this” it said.

The senior advocate Aparajeet Singh told the bench that stubble burning contributes to about 46% of pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The bench said the directions should be given wide publicity in TV, Media, Radio and also at Gram Panchayat level so that people can be made aware of it.

It directed the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to take the decision regarding whether to ban entry of diesel trucks in Delhi and also about industries, which are contributing to pollution and could be shut down during this period.

The court also said that the authorities must ensure that there is no power cut in Delhi-NCR so that generators are not used except in emergency services.

With inputs from live law.in and economic times.

Also Read: Kejriwal´s Diwali gift to Delhi: free bus rides for women and higher minimum wage

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