Consider WFH for Delhi-NCR residents: SC tells Centre, states as pollution levels shoot

The apex court told the Delhi government to submit an action plan by November 16 for immediately improving the national capital’s air quality

On Saturday, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Delhi government to consider imposing a lockdown for two days if the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the national capital doesn’t improve.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating pollution levels in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Monday (November 15) urged the Centre and states to consider implementing work-from-home for their employees living in and around Delhi and ask farmers under their respective jurisdictions not to burn stubble.

Posting the next hearing to Wednesday (November 17), a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana instructed the Centre to convene an emergency meeting to create strategies to reduce smog in the national capital.

Also read: Delhi’s air quality worsens further, AQI recorded at 342

The court also rapped the Delhi government for “passing the buck” to municipal corporations over road sweeping machines and warned that its “lame excuses” will compel it to hold an audit inquiry into total revenue earnings and expenditure on advertisements.

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Delhi’s air remains highly toxic even a week after Diwali, which was when pollution peaked and the attention once again shifted to the city’s ever-degrading air quality.

When the Delhi government’s counsel argued that civic bodies (ruled by the BJP) also need to take some steps, Chief Justice NV Ramana asked, “Are you trying to put blame on municipal corporations?” Are you trying to pass the buck?”

The apex court told the Delhi government to submit an action plan by Tuesday evening (November 16).

Justice Ramana was clearly not impressed with Kejriwal government’s affidavit on the pollution status and steps being taken to mitigate the problem. “What drastic measures are you taking? Forget affidavits. Road dust…what are you doing on that?” the Chief Justice asked.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Delhi government to consider imposing a lockdown for two days if the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the national capital doesn’t improve. The Delhi government said in its affidavit that it can impose a lockdown, provided the NCR (near capital region) follows suit.

Also read: Diwali and stubble burning leave north Indians out of breath

The Chief Justice reiterated his stand on stubble burning by farmers. He said the main causes are factories, vehicles and dust while stubble burning by farmers contributes a small portion to Delhi’s pollution.  Justice Surya Kant said only 4 per cent of toxic fumes in Delhi are due to stubble burning.

Justice Surya Kant also warned the Delhi government against offering lame excuses. “These kinds of lame excuses will force us to hold a proper audit of the revenues you are earning and spending on popularity slogans.”

Delhi’s air quality remained in the very poor category for the second consecutive day on Monday, with the AQI being recorded at 342.

The air quality index of Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Noida stood at 328, 340, 326 and 328 respectively, at 9:05 am.

 

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