- Supreme Court had earlier observed that TV debates are causing more air pollution than anything else
- The Centre has proposed a slew of measures in order to control air pollution
- A call on the reopening of schools and entry of trucks in Delhi is yet to be made
Supreme Court Hearing on Delhi Pollution: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it will continue to hear the case concerning severe air pollution in Delhi even if air quality improves in the city in the coming days. In a stern warning to the government, the apex court said that even if the pollution level goes down, proceedings in the case will continue and directions will be issued.
The court asked the Centre and the NCR states to continue implementing for few days the measures to ensure improvement in air quality, saying that preventive actions are needed in anticipation to curb pollution even as it wondered what signals are being sent to the world.
"When the weather becomes severe then we take measures. These measures have to be taken in anticipation, and this anticipation has to be based on a statistical model and scientific study and pattern," a special bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said.
"This is the national capital. Look at the signals we are sending to the world. You can stop these activities in anticipation itself so the severe grade does not happen," said the bench which also comprised justices DY Chandarchud and Surya Kant.
The measures suggested by the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas to deal with industrial pollution, thermal plants, vehicular emissions, dust control, diesel generators as well as encouraging work from home be continued for the time being, the apex court said.
"Take the measures for the next two-three days and we will hear this matter next Monday. In the meantime if pollution becomes 100 (AQI) etc then you can lift some ban," it said.
Referring to the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on automatic graded action plan in view of worsening air pollution, the top court said these are ad hoc mechanisms and the commission on pollution will have to undertake a scientific study and take preventive action in anticipation.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Vikas Singh told the top court as per a media report due to polls in Punjab fines are not being imposed to please farmers. Responding to the argument, the Supreme Court said that it isn't concerned with this issue and that it can't 'micromanage such things'.
"As a government lawyer and we judges are discussing this. What the bureaucracy has been doing all these years? Let them go to villages, they can go to field, talk to farmers and take a decision. They can involve scientists and why cannot this happen," the bench observed.
Earlier, the Centre had proposed a slew of measures including a ban on entry of all trucks in Delhi except vehicles carrying essential goods, shutting down of schools and 50 per cent attendance in offices of GNCTD to reduce air pollution. The Delhi government told the apex court that it can increase metro and bus frequencies and requested the court to order work from home, ban vehicles in the periphery, in adjoining states too, as there is no point of such ban only in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai had said that the Delhi government is making efforts to check air pollution and employees will continue working from home till November 26. The government has, however, lifted the ban on construction and demolition activities.
As per the System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting & Research (SAFAR), the air quality in the national capital remained in the 'poor' category on Wednesday morning. The overall Air Quality Index is at 280 with PM concentration of 2.5.