The Supreme Court on Monday said that Delhi has become worse than "Narak" (hell) in the wake of deteriorating air quality, mounting garbage and unfit drinking water, and asked why should not the state administration be held accountable to compensate people. A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta queried from Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, present before the bench: "Are you serious about water and air pollution in Delhi... you have just 55 per cent capacity to handle waste, what about the remaining 45 per cent?"
As the Chief Secretary sought to explain that Delhi governance is an issue due to dual power centres, Justice Mishra retorted: "Do not blame others, and think you can get scot-free. You are liable to compensate the people. How much money is coming to clean the Yamuna River, and where it is going... What is the status of water in Delhi? We are taking suo moto cognizance of people's right to get pure drinking water."
The top court observed that life is not cheap in India anymore, and what was given in Bhopal gas tragedy is nothing compared to what is given to victims in similar cases worldwide. "What is the value of life you assess? People are suffering from bronchial asthma, do you know how many cancer patients are in Delhi," the court said, adding Delhi government's top administrative officer has no right to be on his chair.
"Can you monetise the reduction in life span?" the court asked.
Emphasising that state authorities are busy in passing the buck, and in fact, playing the blame game on the issue of water and air pollution in Delhi, an angry Justice Mishra said: "You are politicising the issue of pollution... why governments are not sitting together, instead of blaming each other... everything cannot be done under the noose of this court."
The top court, hearing the response of Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in connection with steps taken to curb air pollution, slammed top officials of the state administrations for showing lack of seriousness in responding to pollution matters which cause a direct threat to human life.
The judges said that they were shocked to notice that measures to cut down pollution from stubble burning were nil and steps were only being taken to penalise the violators, despite specific court orders.
Pulling up the governments of Haryana and Punjab, the court said: "Why are people being forced to live in gas chambers? It is better to kill them all in one go... Get explosives in 15 bags at one go."
The apex court also directed the Central Pollution Control Board to file a report on the adverse impact of factories in and around Delhi on the environment.
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