Supreme Court will hear a plea today on the alarming state of air pollution in Delhi-NCR that has forced the government to shut down schools and ban on construction works.
The plea was filed by the Environment Pollution Control Authority which has sought proper monitoring of the worsening pollution level in the national capital and adjoining areas. Saying that the situation is a public emergency, the plea urged the apex court for stringent action.
Director General at the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based organisation of environmental activists, Sunita Narain said, the Delhi government is coming up with an emergency action plan, but the court should monitor the measures.
Agreeing to hear the matter, a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao yesterday said that the court has already passed the orders and they need to be implemented.
The apex court was also given the report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for NCR on the state of air pollution in the national capital territory.
Narain also told the court that Uttar Pradesh and Haryana were diverting the heavy vehicles and other traffic so that they don't pass through the national capital but because of shortage of manpower, the diversion of traffic was not upto the desired levels.
The EPCA in its report, titled Delhi's worst smog incident, says that the "levels of PM 2.5 has increased by 1.4 times on November 5, 2016 as compared to Diwali. It is 14 times the standard on November 5, 2016 - a situation, which is both alarming and dangerous for human health".
Appreciating the steps announced by Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal government on Sunday to curb the alarming level of air pollution, the EPCA report says that "if pollution is not reduced within the next 48 hours then Delhi government must take further steps to drastically reduce pollution, including odd-even (without exemptions) and further restrictions on commercial vehicle entry".
The report has called for short-term emergency measures to drastically reduce the current level of air pollution and strict enforcement of top court's December 16 directions for effective control of toxic and dangerous air pollution.
It says that the current level of air pollution in Delhi was "higher than what was recorded during the London smog incident of 1952 and certainly higher than what has been seen in Delhi ever".
The key cause of this extremely high pollution in Delhi and its vicinity," the EPCA report says, "is a combination of factors that includes already high pollution because of numbers of vehicles, unchecked construction and road dust, garbage burning which got compounded by Diwali crackers and the burning of paddy residue by farmers in Punjab and Haryana including onset of winter and no wind".
The report says that the severe smog condition caused by all these must be "treated as a public health emergency", and sought strict enforcement of environment compensation charge (ECC) on Delhi-bound trucks and other steps directed by the top court in December last year.
With IANS Inputs