Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 15
The Supreme Court on Friday directed Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to personally appear before it on November 25 as it was not satisfied by the steps taken to check deteriorating pollution level in NCR.
This is the second time that the top court has summoned them on the issue of pollution in the NCR due to stubble and garbage burning, construction and demolition activities.
“How do people breathe? Why cannot we have a clean Delhi? Evergreen and ever clean,” a Bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta asked, adding Delhi was “suffering badly” due to the pollution level, and “drastic” and effective steps were needed to reduce it.
The Bench, which had earlier summoned them on November 6, noted that there was no improvement in the air quality. Pollution had not been reduced with the introduction of odd-even road-rationing scheme in the national capital.
The court said despite its order, stubble-burning was continuing in Punjab, Haryana and in western Uttar Pradesh.
Stubble burning in Punjab had decreased while it had gone up in Haryana, it noted. “Why is this happening? We have to call the chief secretaries. Why this burning is taking place? It is shocking,” the Bench said. “Delhi is suffering badly. The AQI inside the room is above 600 today. Outside the room, it is worse. How do people breathe?” it wondered.
Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni said Central Pollution Control Board found that odd-even had no effect on the pollution level in Delhi even as senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, representing Delhi Government, contested his claim.
Rohatgi said as per study reports, the pollution level had reduced from 5-15 per cent during odd-even scheme. “If exemptions are removed, it might reduce more. There are large number of two wheelers in the city and if we stop them (during odd-even scheme), the whole city will collapse. The real culprit is stubble burning,” he said.
“Odd-even is not a long-term solution to the problem. Public transport services should be made better. But there hasn’t been much work towards it,” the Bench said, adding “it affects only the middle and lower classes. Affluent classes have many cars.”
“In cities where odd-even worked, there were no exceptions,” said the Bench, which is also hearing a PIL against the Delhi Government’s odd-even scheme.
It wanted to see satellite images of areas where stubble burning was taking place. “Show us images from yesterday and today. Has there been compliance with our previous order?” it said.
The Bench directed DPCC to enforce the ban on trucks and three-wheelers running illegally on polluting fuel. “In case it’s found that polluting fuel is used, not only the owner but officials will also be liable,” it said, seeking a report in seven days.
On November 6, it had ordered governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to give Rs 100 per quintal for non-Basmati paddy as an incentive within a week to farmers who have not burnt stubble.
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