Commission or not, just ensure there is no smog in Delhi-NCR: SC tells Centre

Centre informs SC that commission for air quality management will start functioning from Friday; SC says it will nonetheless hear petition on smog after Diwali holidays

Supreme Court
Besides seeking protection for the Republic TV media group, Arnab Goswami and its employees, the petition had said that Maharashtra government should be stopped from 'hounding them' and all FIRs lodged against them be either quashed or transferred to the CBI.

The Supreme Court on Friday (November 6) asked the Centre to ensure that there was no smog in Delhi-NCR, soon after it was informed that the commission for air quality management will start functioning from Friday onwards.

“The only thing is that you ensure that there is no smog in the city. We are not concerned with commission. There are many commissions and many brains are working, but just ensure that there is no smog in the city,” a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The bench posted the pleas related to air pollution for hearing after the Diwali vacation.

Related news: Delhi government approves tree transplantation, smog tower Connaught Place

The Centre on Thursday (November 5) appointed former secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dr MM Kutty as chairperson of the newly-formed Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.

On October 29, the top court was informed by the Centre that it has come out with an Ordinance on curbing pollution and it has been promulgated already.

Referring to the ordinance, Mehta said he would place it on record. To this, the court said Mehta may place it on record, but it will hear the case after Diwali.

Mehta said the government is taking all efforts on war footing to curb air pollution in the national capital.

Vikash Singh, senior advocate representing petitioner Aditya Dubey said the chairman of the commission could have been a retired judge of the high court instead of a bureaucrat. He also pointed that the commission doesn’t have any member from the health ministry.

To Singh’s appeal that something “drastic” needs to be done to mitigate the public health emergency that the region is dealing with, the court said the problem needs to be dealt by the executive.

“We are a court of law. This is a problem which has to be dealt with by the executive. They have the money, the power and the resources for this. We are not abdicating our responsibility or functions but understand this, we have some limitations,” the bench said.

Arvind Nautiyal, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is a full time member of the commission while Ramesh KJ, former DG IMD and professor Mukesh Khare of IIT-Delhi have been appointed as full time technical members of the new body.

The commission, as per announcement by the environment ministry on Friday, will include Dr Ajay Mathur, DG TERI and Ashish Dhawan of Air Pollution Action Group as NGO representatives.

Related news: Centre introduces new law to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR

The ex-officio members of the commission will include a representative of the secretary, MoEF, chief secretaries or secretaries-in-charge of environment departments from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, representative from Niti Ayog and two technical members, one from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and another from ISRO.

The commission has been set up to monitor and check air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR and the surrounding regions. The body will supersede the CPCB and state governments in taking decisions on pollution mitigation.

 

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