‘Two-day lockdown?’: SC asks Centre to take ’emergency measures’ on Delhi air pollution, next hearing on Nov 15

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Updated: November 13, 2021 12:01 PM

The CJI-led top court bench was hearing a petition filed by 17-year-old Delhi student Aditya Dubey concerning rising levels of air pollution in Delhi. 

The bench said that it is issuing notice and seeking a response in six weeks.

Expressing concern over the rising levels of air pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Saturday asked the Centre to take “emergency measures” to tackle the situation in the next two-three days. “You tell us how do you plan to take the emergency measures? Two-day lockdown? What is your plan on lowering the AQI (Air Quality Index) levels?”

It posted the matter for matter on November 15 while asking the Centre to apprise about the steps taken to handle the rising levels in the Delhi-NCR region.

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that air pollution was a “serious situation” so much so that “even in our houses, we are wearing masks”. He told the Centre that the air quality in Delhi was already in the ‘severe’ category and will dip further in another two-three days.

“You have to look at this issue beyond politics and government. Something must happen so that in two to three days we feel better,” the CJI-led bench told the central government.

The CJI-led top court bench was hearing a petition filed by 17-year-old Delhi student Aditya Dubey concerning rising levels of air pollution in Delhi. The top court had earlier directed Centre to take steps and Delhi government to file an affidavit in this regard, and give copies to the Centre, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab governments.

On Centre’s submission that two lakh machines are available in the market for stubble burning but farmers cannot afford to buy them, the court questioned why the central and state government could not provide those machines to the farmers or arrange methods to take away the stubble.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the centre, told the Supreme Court that the government was taking steps to stop stubble burning, and attributed the rise in pollution to stubble burning in Punjab, Bar and Bench reported.

In response to that, Chief Justice Ramana said, “You are making it as if farmers are responsible for this. What about steps taken to contain the pollution in delhi or steps like emission controls etc?”

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the centre, later clarified, “We are not saying that it’s only farmers. We never said that.”

The court observed that that now “it has become a fashion to bash the farmers whether it’s Delhi govt or someone else.”

It also pulled up the Delhi government over the ban on firecrackers and the reopening of schools amid the rising levels of pollution in the city. “You have opened all schools in the national capital and now children are exposed to pollutants. This is not the Centre’s but your jurisdiction. What is happening on that front?”

The Centre’s pollution control board on Friday ordered states and local bodies to be in “complete readiness” for emergency measures to tackle New Delhi’s worsening smog conditions due to a drop in temperature and wind speeds, according to news agency Reuters.

Over 4,000 farm fires, which accounted for 35 per cent of Delhi’s pollution on Friday, played a major role in pushing the 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) to 471 by 4 pm, the worst this season so far. It was 411 on Thursday.

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