Lacking firm action by the Center and the states to reduce the level of deadly pollution in Delhi and NCR, Chief Justice NV Ramna and a bench of Justices DY Chandrachur and Surya Kant expressed their grievances, saying, “We do not think the executive government will sit together on Saturday. “It’s very unfortunate that we have to set an agenda for them and focus on the areas they need to make urgent decisions.”
“We see that the main contributors to air pollution in the NRI are construction activities, non-essential industries, transportation and the operation of coal-fired power plants. We see that the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and adjoining areas and the Delhi government have also taken some initiatives in compliance with the directions given by this court. We appreciate the steps they have taken, “said David Cook, chief of The Christian Science Monitor’s Washington bureau.
“However, after going through the actual practice adopted at the ground level, we see that the authorities have not yet indicated the broad steps to be taken to control the factors responsible for poor air quality,” the bench said, and directed the Center to hold a meeting with all stakeholders on Tuesday. It will convene an emergency meeting and discuss the areas underlined by the court and decide what further steps can be taken, including the implementation process.
The SC highlighted that straw burning was not a major contributor to the pollution, though the Center said it affected Delhi and the NCR air for two months of the year. The bench said, “As far as air pollution is concerned, the affidavits submitted indicate that burning straw is not responsible for that amount of air pollution except in October and November.”
At the same time, the CJI-led bench acknowledged that the incidence of straw burning has increased in Punjab and Haryana. It called on both states to “persuade farmers and put pressure on them not to set fire to the land for at least two weeks.”
“We urge the Union and NCR states of India to consider allowing their officers and officials to work from home, as the Delhi government does, to reduce traffic congestion,” the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday. The Center and the concerned states need to come up with a definite action plan.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Center was coordinating with the states and the Delhi government, which was not only cooperating but also trying its best to deal with the crisis. He agrees with the SC, which states that sources other than hay burning contribute about 70-80% of NCR pollution and states that straw burning contributes about 4-10% of air pollution.
A bench headed by CJI said, “Digging is not a major cause of pollution. Dust, industrial and vehicle major contributors. Taking action on these three issues will reduce pollution. We can deal with burning hay by taking long-term measures. ”
Justice Chandrachur said, “According to your affidavit, burning straw contributes 4% to the pollution. So, so far we have identified a source of pollution which is negligible. “But petitioners Aditya Dubey’s lawyers Bikash Singh, Nikhil Jain and Minesh Dubey have protested and said that the forthcoming Punjab elections are forcing the government to falsify information on straw burning. Singh argued,” Punjab Straw burning incidents are not being reported and no action is being taken as important elections approach. ”
The bench said it was not related to elections or politics. “What we want is to take strong action at the ground level to reduce pollution.” The SG said the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been implemented since 2017 and has yielded results.