"Emergency measures are required": Supreme Court asks all stakeholders to act on steps suggested by Cabinet Secretaries

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The court also question the government on the effectiveness of the odd-even scheme being implemented.

The Supreme Court bench led by Justice SK Kaul today directed all stakeholders to proceed with steps suggested by cabinet secretaries.

In a plea seeking directions on the issue of stubble burning causing pollution in Delhi NCR, court was further informed that smog towers were not closed but were non-operational for a brief period due to change in weather.

Referring to the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009 and the effects of paddy cultivation on groundwater, the bench also comprising Justices Dhulia and Amanullah said, "Water table in Punjab is going down. We don't want another desert there...".

The bench further indicated on growing of crops that would not produce a great quantity of stubble. In this regard the administration has been asked to consider suggestions made on controlling farm fires by utilising technology and look at long time measures for crop replacement in phased manner.

The plea will now be heard on November 21.

In reference to the recent worsening of the condition in Delhi NCR, the Supreme Court has recently remarked that a huge number of taxis were found on Delhi roads, with only one passenger onboard.

On many taxis being registered from different states, the Delhi government was asked to consider disallowing them. "We would like to know whether there is any way of monitoring, especially during this time, if only taxis registered in Delhi are permitted to ply on roads, as an additional measure to control pollution," court said.

Notably, the government has been directed to make smog towers operational immediately.

Top Court on Tuesday also clarified that its earlier ban on barium-based crackers is binding on every State in the country.

An application was moved seeking appropriate direction to the State of Rajasthan and the District Administration of Udaipur to immediately take steps to prevent air pollution in the city of Udaipur.

Recently, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere with the blanket ban imposed by it on production and sale of firecrackers including green crackers in the Delhi NCR region. Court had further told the Delhi Police that filing cases against people who burn firecrackers may not help in curbing sale of firecrackers.

In a similar petition, the Supreme Court had also refused to interfere with the ban imposed by the Delhi government on the storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers. While doing so, the bench told petitioner BJP MP Manoj Tiwari to go to a state where it is allowed to burn crackers if he wished to do so. 

On October 30, 2023 he National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Bhopal has also emphasized strict compliance with the Supreme Court's directions and the principal bench of the tribunal regarding the regulation and restrictions on the use of firecrackers. The NGT emphasized that celebrations should not infringe upon the fundamental right to health under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The tribunal clarified that there is no "total ban" on the use of firecrackers. However, the bench comprising Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Expert Member, Dr. Afroz Ahmad observed that only firecrackers found injurious to the health of citizens, particularly children and the elderly, have been banned. The NGT warned authorities not to permit the use of any banned firecrackers under the guise of celebrations.

Case Title: MC Mehta vs. Union of India