Air pollution: SC refuses urgent hearing to builders’ plea for lifting of ban on construction activities
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 6
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant urgent hearing to a plea filed by a builders’ body seeking lifting of ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR re-imposed to check worsening air pollution.
“I will not take a call now... Let this matter come up on Friday and then we will see...Sorry! We can’t,” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Raman told senior counsel Vikas Singh, representing the Developers and Builders Forum.
Contending that thousands of crores of rupees were being lost by real estate firms due to the ban, Singh demanded that the plea should be taken up urgently either on Monday or Tuesday. “The government had lifted the ban on construction activities. This ban was re-imposed by the court and not by the government,” Singh submitted.
Days after the Supreme Court re-imposed ban construction activities in Delhi-NCR to check high levels of air pollution, Developers and Builders Forum moved the top court seeking lifting of the ban on the ground that the order didn’t take into account the views of all stakeholders.
As air quality refuses to show any considerable improvement, the Supreme Court on November 24 re-imposed the ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR and ordered states to provide subsistence money to workers from the funds collected as labour cess during the ban period.
But the Forum contended that the “blanket ban has directly affected the livelihoods of a large number of construction workers, supervisory personnel and other managerial staff who would be employed at such sites on a daily or monthly basis.
“At a time when the entire country is coming out of the pandemic, any such ban affecting the livelihoods of a large number of citizens would have devastating effects on the society,” it submitted.
However, the Forum said the direction was issued without taking into account the views of all stakeholders and without differentiating between construction activities of various kinds.
“The present blanket ban on all construction activities takes within its sweep even small constructions of residential and other units which can in no manner be said to be causing large scale pollution,” the Forum submitted.
Citing a report prepared by Centre for Science & Environment, the Forum contended that the entire construction activities ongoing in NCR constituted a meagre 6.7-7.9% of the entire pollution in the region. Other causes like vehicular pollution, industrial pollution, stubble burning, etc. are the major causes for the current health hazard,” it submitted.
It said, “...even within the construction activities, admittedly the major contributors to pollution are the big commercial projects like multi-storey buildings, Central Vista project, Metro construction, construction of fly-overs and underpasses, etc.
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