As Delhi grapples with unprecedented air pollution levels, the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave 48 hours to the Centre to apprise it about the policy, if any, to tackle the issue of rising pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur questioned the government on whether in India there is a “graded response system” like Beijing and Singapore to check rising air pollution levels. The bench also asked the Centre to share comprehensive details of its plans to curb pollution.
“Do you have a plan before pollution attains such a lethal level that the entire city will be shut down and human lives are threatened?” the CJI asked the Centre.
“When pollution increases, first schools are shut down. When it becomes further dangerous, construction activities, etc, are shut down. When it becomes more dangerous, hazardous industries are shut down. When it becomes lethal, the entire city is shut down… Do you have a plan before pollution levels go to such an extent that it threatens human lives?” Justice Thakur asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar.
While Kumar sought two days’ time to address the court on the queries raised by the judges, he argued that the rampant and uncontrolled commercialisation and industrialisation of Delhi has led to rise in toxicity.
The court also expressed its displeasure at the way the Delhi government had failed to comply with its earlier orders like having more vacuum cleaners to rid the roads of dust, etc.
“There is a breach of our earlier orders. You (Delhi government) are in breach of your obligations as a government and you are also in breach of our judicial orders,” Chief Justice Thakur said.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising submitted that the Delhi government has six vacuum cleaners, of which only two are operational. Tenders have been given for 15 more cleaners last week, she said, adding that these vacuum cleaners can be used only broad roads.