SC asks expert panel to work out lasting solution for NCR’s air pollution

The Union power ministry informed the apex court that a further shutdown of thermal power plants within a 300-km radius of Delhi will impact energy security.

The commission will take a call on Friday on reopening of schools and allowing construction activity, he said.
The commission will take a call on Friday on reopening of schools and allowing construction activity, he said.

Expressing satisfaction with the steps taken by the Commission for Air Quality Management to curb air pollution in Delhi NCR, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the expert body to invite suggestions from the general public and experts to find a permanent solution to the recurring pollution issues.

A special bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana posted the matter for further hearing in February.

The commission told the apex court that it has permitted the resumption of full-time operation of milk and dairy processing units, and medicines, drugs and life-saving equipment, paper pulp, paddy processing and textile and garment manufacturing industries in Delhi NCR.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that certain industries have been permitted to function for eight hours. Some industries who said their nature would require continuous functioning have been asked to operate continuously but for only five days, he said, adding that the industries have been told to function in a “staggered manner”.

The commission will take a call on Friday on reopening of schools and allowing construction activity, he said.

Mehta said, “All hospital constructions are permitted and for the rest of the construction activity, interior etc can continue but not actual construction … There is continuous inspection by the 40 flying squads,” he said. A committee will find a long-term solution with NEERI experts and others so that the kneejerk reaction for the recurring problem is not needed every year, he said.

The Union power ministry informed the apex court that a further shutdown of thermal power plants within a 300-km radius of Delhi will impact energy security.

Petitioner Aditya Dubey, too, sought to end the restrictions on the grounds that halting construction activity of flyovers will cause more pollution due to traffic congestion.

Senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioner, said instead of shutting down thermal plants, which would lead to use of highly polluting diesel generators, these plants should be relocated outside the 300 km periphery of the capital.

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