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Implement directions to curb air pollution, Supreme Court tells Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and UP

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to comply with the directions issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi and NCR, the Centre and the court; and asked them to file compliance reports by Wednesday.

A three-judge Bench led by CJI NV Ramana said if the states do not implement the directions, ‘we will set up a task force for implementation of measures to reduce air pollution”.

Posting the matter for Thursday, the Bench said, “We want to give an opportunity to state governments to comply with the directions. They are directed to comply forthwith and file replies before Wednesday eveninghellip;.States must implement all measures in 48 hours.”

The top court also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to respond to the issue of dust pollution caused by ongoing construction of Central Vista, raised by senior advocate Vikas Singh on behalf of petitioner Aditya Dubey.

“Central Vista cannot be more important than the rising levels of air pollution. I can play videos, how dust is coming up from Central Vista. It cannot be more important than Supreme Court orders,” Vikas Singh said even as Mehta said, “This is just trumpet-blowing.”

Earlier, when the Solicitor General said the AQI was 405 today, the CJI corrected him and said it was 419.

The Bench – which also included Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant ndash; expressed serious concern over increasing air pollution. “The Centre says it is taking steps, but the pollution levels are increasing. And there is a looming danger of coronavirus. What to do?” it wondered.

“We can deal with the virus separately,” Mehta responded.

After issuing directions and advisories, the authorities hoped that all would be good, but on the ground the result was zero, it noted. “All intentions are good and directions are given but the implementation is zero. We need strict compliance of the measures already directed to be taken,” it said.

As air quality continued to be very poor or hazardous, the Supreme Court had on November 24 re-imposed the ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR and ordered states to provide subsistence money to workers from the funds collected as labour cess during the ban period.

On Monday, senior counsel AM Singhvi told the Bench on behalf of the Delhi government that there was 90 per cent compliance by it. “We have disbursed Rs 147 crore for construction workers like Rs 5,000 for three lakh workers…5,000 CNG buses have been provided to the workers to travel to central Delhi,” Singhvi submitted.

During the last hearing, the court had said, “We take measures when the condition becomes severe… These measures have to be taken in anticipation…based on a scientific statistical model.” It had asked the commission to undertake a study which “must factor in seasonal variations and other relevant parameters”.

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