‘Think of urgent steps like lockdown, long-term plan later’: Supreme Court to Centre on Delhi air pollution

"Air quality in Delhi is in the 'severe' category and in another 2 to 3 days it will dip further. Take an emergency decision. We will look at a long term solution later," CJI Ramana told the Centre.

Hearing a plea to check air pollution in the national capital, which is in the ‘severe’ category on Saturday, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana-led Supreme Court bench asked if emergency measures like lockdown for a few days can be imposed to tackle the rising AQI levels.

“Tell us how we can reduce AQI from 500 at least by 200 points. Take some urgent measures. Can you think of two days lockdown or something? How can people live? Air quality in Delhi is in the ‘severe’ category and in another 2 to 3 days it will dip further. Take an emergency decision. We will look at a long term solution later,” CJI Ramana told the Centre.

The top court also said that air pollution is a serious situation and the deteriorating air quality had compelled people to wear masks even at home. “You see how bad the situation is….even in our houses, we are wearing masks,” the CJI said, according to Bar and Bench.

The bench also asked the Delhi government about what happened to its decision to install smog towers and emission control projects.

“You have opened all schools in the national capital and now children are exposed to pollutants. This is not the Centre’s but your jurisdiction. What is happening on that front?,” the bench asked Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government.

The apex court also observed that now it has become a fashion to bash the farmers whether it’s Delhi govt or someone else. “There was ban on firecrackers, what happened with that?,” it asked.

Questioning the Centre on what steps it has taken to tackle air pollution, the CJI-led bench said, “Central government says 2 lakh machines are available for stubble burning and in market there are 2-3 kinds of machines available but farmers can’t afford to buy them. Why can’t Centre/State govts provide these machines to farmers or take away the stubble?”

“Little children have to go to school in this weather, we are exposing them to this. Dr Guleria (AIIMS) said we are exposing them to pollution, pandemic and dengue.

The top court also told the Central government that it needs to look at this issue beyond politics and government. “Something must happen so that in two to three days we feel better.”

Following this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Centre that today’s meeting will have to focus on the emergency situation of air pollution.

The court posted the matter for next hearing on November 15 (Monday).

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