Supreme Court defers hearing on Delhi air pollution till November 29; Calls for urgent preventive measures


Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 24 November

The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred the hearing on deteriorating air pollution in Delhi-NCR till Monday, as it said certain orders are required on immediate preventive measures to deal with the emergency situation.

A three-judge bench headed by CJI NV Ramana said, “We take measures when the situation becomes critical… These measures should be taken in anticipation based on scientific statistical models.”

“Take measures for the next two-three days and we will hear the matter again next Monday,” said the bench – also comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant.

“It’s the national capital. Look at the signals we’re sending to the world. You can stop these activities in anticipation so that it doesn’t even make a serious grade… all of a sudden when the pollution comes you start sprinkling water, it Won’t help. If you have a statistical model then there will be a hierarchical response. It has to be science based,” it said.

The top court had on November 17 refrained from passing any coercive directions on deteriorating air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjourned the hearing till November 24 after the Center improved the situation after November 21.

However, it had asked the officials not to lower the guard. It asked the Center and NCR states to implement in letter and spirit the decisions taken in the emergency meeting organized by the Air Quality Management Commission in the NCR and adjoining areas.

On Wednesday, the bench said the government should prepare a scientific model on the basis of last year’s data to determine the average air pollution level in different seasons during the year. It said this model can be used to take appropriate measures in advance to prevent further deterioration of air quality.

However, the top court made it clear that it intended to pass orders on measures to be implemented by the Centre, Delhi and NCR states to improve air quality and bring it to a satisfactory level.

It said in the meantime, if the pollution situation improves and the AQI becomes 100, some restrictions may be removed and internal works like electricity etc. may be allowed to continue.

Observing that crores of rupees collected as cess for the welfare of construction workers were lying with the states, the bench asked the governments of Delhi and NCR states to consider payment of subsistence allowance to construction workers for loss of work. asked for, when construction work was banned. Due to severe air pollution.

The bench again pulled up the bureaucracy for its “lax attitude” in dealing with the issue of air pollution and stubble burning. “We are using common sense to discuss the issues. What are the central and state bureaucracies doing? Why can’t they go to the fields, talk to farmers and scientists and come up with a permanent solution to stop stubble burning?” Said it.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that on November 16, the AQI was 403 and now it is 260.

Mehta said that dust management instructions are being followed and 250 anti-smog guns have been installed, 23 mechanized road sweeping machines and 1007 water sprinklers have also been installed. He said 57 construction sites have been closed.

“What has been done now is ad hoc. Under the Act the commission has to conduct a scientific study, so there may be seven days’ worth of data. There should be a model to see that if measures are taken along with the wind patterns, there will be a reduction in pollution,” the bench emphasized.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for petitioner Aditya Dubey, alleged that farmers were not being fined for burning stubble in Punjab in view of the upcoming assembly elections.

“We are not worried. We are only concerned with pollution, we cannot micro-manage such things,” the bench said.