Delhi pollution: SC says people can’t be left to die, slams Centre, three states

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Published: November 5, 2019 4:47:57 AM

The Bench expressed displeasure at the Centre and Delhi governments for blaming each other.

delhi pollution, pollutionRegarding pollution due to dust on roads, the Bench directed that water be sprinkled on roads having more dust and traffic plan be prepared to check traffic congestion.

The Supreme Court on Monday took serious note of the lapses of the authorities concerned, including the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, in curbing the severe air pollution in the national capital region (NCR) that is ‘choking it year and after year” and causing people to lose “precious years of their lives”, and issued various directions to them to bring an ‘immediate solution’ to the issue.

Anguished over such rampant instances of stubble burning in the three states, the top court summoned their chief secretaries for Wednesday (November 6), saying that the time has come to “fix accountability” for such lapse.
The apex court also directed the three chief secretaries as well as the district collectors and the police machinery to ensure that “not even a single instance of stubble burning” takes place in these states henceforth.
The top court also halted all construction and demolition work as well as garbage and waste burning in the Delhi-NCR region till further orders.

It further said Rs 1-lakh penalty will be imposed for construction or demolition activities and the offenders involved in garbage or waste burning would have to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000.

A Bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also asked the Delhi government what it was achieving from the much-publicised odd-even vehicle rotation scheme launched on Monday, given that the scheme stopped plying of cars that are less polluting compared to two- and three-wheelers and taxis that will ply more as a result.

The court asked the Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments why liability had not been fixed so far on gram pradhans, sarpanches, etc, as they were aware about who was burning crop stubble, which contributes to around 46% pollution in Delhi-NCR.

Justice Mishra iterated Right to Life is of utmost importance. “People in Delhi-NCR are losing ‘precious years of their lives’ and cannot be left to die due to the atrocious pollution situation which reflects a shocking state of affairs… this can’t go on. It is not done in a civilised country… People aren’t safe even inside their houses and rooms.”

The Bench expressed displeasure at the Centre and Delhi governments for blaming each other.

It also asked these state governments to explain as to why they should not be asked to pay compensation for the damage caused as they have “totally failed” to prevent stubble burning in their respective areas.

Amicus curie and senior advocate Aparajita Singh apprised the court about the crop burning has gone up by 7% in Punjab and is down by 17% in Haryana, as stated by the Centre in its affidavit.

Pulling up the Centre and the three state governments over the toxic haze enveloping Delhi, the court also directed them to prepare a roadmap within three weeks to prevent a situation in future like the one that is currently prevailing in the region.

Regarding pollution due to dust on roads, the Bench directed that water be sprinkled on roads having more dust and traffic plan be prepared to check traffic congestion. It also directed IIT, Delhi to suggest the water pressure for sprinklers so as to reduce pollution from dust.

The apex court also directed the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority to decide on banning entry of diesel trucks in Delhi and also about closure of industries, which are also contributing to pollution, for some time. It also directed authorities to ensure there are no power cuts so that generators can be avoided and used only during emergency essential services.

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