The court asked the government to consider some immediate measures to reduce pollution in Delhi-NCR from current “severe” levels. “Air pollution is a serious situation,” said the Chief Justice. NV Ramana noted when hearing a petition about air pollution in Delhi.
“Tell us how we can reduce the AQI of 500 by at least 200 points. Take some urgent action. Can you think of two days of lockdown or something like that? How can people live?” said the bank led by the CJI. “We want urgent measures to be taken and in two or three days the contamination should be reduced,” the court told the Center. People are forced to wear masks even at home, he observed.
The high court said stubble burning must be addressed in a long-term measure, but emergency measures must be taken without delay. “The air quality in Delhi is in the ‘severe’ category and in another 2-3 days it will drop even further. Make an emergency decision. We will see a long-term solution later,” the court ordered the government.
The court said the Center is playing politics or the blame game over the situation. “You have to look at this issue beyond politics and government,” he said.
The court also said that instead of blaming the farmers, all states and the Center should come together to address the problem of pollution.
The court asked the Center to ask Punjab and Haryana to stop burning stubble for at least two days to reduce pollution, as SG said the situation might not improve until November 17.
The high court further said that the central government says expensive machines are available for burning stubble and that farmers cannot afford to buy them. “Why can’t the central or state governments provide these machines to farmers or remove the stubble?” SC questioned.
The Delhi government has opened schools and young children are exposed to severe air pollution, the court added. “Young children have to go to school in this climate, we are exposing them to this. Dr. Guleria (head of AIIMS) said we are exposing them to pollution, pandemic and dengue.”
“Have you taken any steps to close schools or address the situation? What happened to the smog towers that they were going to lift? Are they working,” asked the SC.
The high court said urgent action will be taken after Attorney General Tushar Mehta said ambient air condition may change to emergency levels.
The SG said that the emergency meeting of the Center and the state governments is scheduled for this afternoon.
The CV asked the Center to inform this Monday of the decisions taken to address the emergency situation caused by air pollution.