Thursday, January, 27,2022

SC gives 24 hours to Centre, Delhi govt to take action on air pollution

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern on rising air pollution in Delhi-NCR and granted 24 hours deadline to the Centre and Delhi government to come up with a serious plan for implementation of pollution control measures.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant asked the Centre and Delhi government to "take a hard look at the situation and come up with a solution". The apex court noted that several directions issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas are not being implemented at the ground level and said that in an emergency situation you have to work in emergent ways.

"What is the Commission doing? In a situation of emergency, you have to work quickly and with creativity. What is the point of the 20-30 member committee? Another burden on the state exchequer. We have to do something extraordinary otherwise it won't work. We can't infuse creativity in your bureaucracy," the top court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre.

The Solicitor General requested one more day's time to respond to the concerns expressed by the Bench said and said, "He will talk to the highest authority."

To this, the Bench said, "Mr Mehta, we expect a serious real action, if you can't do by tomorrow we are going to do. We are giving you 24 hours."

"We think that nothing is happening as pollution level is increasing. We think that we are wasting our time. If the court, government and everyone are doing so much, why is pollution increasing anyone will ask this. What is going wrong then," CJI Ramana observed.

It also slammed the Delhi government for opening schools amidst the rising pollution level in the city and asked when the government implemented work from home for adults then why children are being forced to go to school.

"One thing you told was schools are closed, but schools are now open. Small children have to go in the morning in fog. There is no respect. You say there is work from home option. So elders will stay at home and children will go to school," the apex court said.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the Delhi government told the top court that the schools were reopened after the pollution levels came down, however, the option of online classes is still there.

"You cannot fire bullets from our shoulders, you have to take steps. You are Government so you have to take action. You are saying whoever wants to come, come, you want to stay at home, stay. If you give an option, everyone will come, who wants to stay at home. We also have children, grandchildren. You have to take a call. Don't tell us we have to take a call," the Bench observed.

The Bench pulled the Delhi government saying there is no implementation except assurances and popularity slogans. "Nothing has been followed. While we came to court, there are people sitting in the middle of the road with banners of save the environment, that's why we say only popularity slogans," the apex court observed.

Yesterday, the Central government has filed an affidavit and apprised the apex court that the Central Vista development project and the construction work for the new Parliament building are projects of "national importance" and they are complying with every condition to ensure that pollution is not caused.

The response of the Central government was filed in compliance with the top court's November 29 order wherein it had asked the government to respond on the allegation that construction work for the Central Vista Redevelopment project was a major cause of pollution.

The top court will hear tomorrow at 10 am the plea seeking emergency steps to control the worsening air quality situation in the national capital. (ANI)

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