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'You are responsible': Delhi HC raises concern over poor air quality, pulls up forest department

On October 10, the court had demanded earmarking of 750 hectares of land by authorities for developing an alternative forest, saying it was needed for planned development in the interest of future generations, and the national capital "can't just be concrete all over".

Raju Kumar Edited By: Raju Kumar @rajudelhi123 New Delhi Published on: November 01, 2023 21:04 IST
Delhi High Court takes up matter related to air pollution
Image Source : REPRESENTATIONAL PIC Delhi High Court takes up matter related to air pollution

The Delhi High Court Wednesday pulled up the forest department, holding its officials responsible for the capital's air quality. The court asked the department to take steps to ensure that the Air Quality Index (AQI) improves in the national capital. The court was hearing matters related to the creation of an alternative forest in Delhi and filling up vacancies in the forest department

Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that children were suffering from asthma due to breathing polluted air. 

The encroachment was taking place in the ridge area, considered the lungs of the national capital, "right under the nose" of government officials, he added.

Asking the principal secretary of the forest department to fill the vacancies on a "war footing", the court said, "You are responsible for the quality of the air we breathe. It is your obligation to ensure AQI comes down."

"Every kid is having breathing problems. (In) December-January, people have to travel out when it is the best time to be here," the court lamented.

The court emphasised the residents of Delhi have the fundamental right to clean air to breathe and greenery goes a long way in doing that.

The senior official informed the court that the department was going to undertake "eco-restoration" of 136 acre of "deemed forest" land in Isapur near Haryana border.

He also said Yamuna floodplains were being ecologically rejuvenated and restored by various authorities. The court was also assured that steps will be taken to complete the recruitment process for various vacant posts in the forest department.

HC on alternative forest 

The court had told the forest department of the Delhi government that "we don't have the luxury of time" as the existing forest cover, i.e. the ridge area, "has its life" and an alternative "dedicated forest" will be ready only in 10-15 years. It had remarked that the proposal put forward by the authorities about setting aside a minuscule 0.23 acre of land to develop an alternative forest was a "joke". The matter would be heard next on November 8.

(With PTI inputs)

Also read: BJP plans to get Kejriwal arrested, other I.N.D.I.A bloc leaders next, claims AAP's Raghav Chadha

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