A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI NV Ramana today told the centre that the commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital must conduct a scientific study that will enable the State to come up with measures to curb the pollution before the air quality dips. The bench also consisting of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant informed the centre that they don’t intend to dispose the matter irrespective of the pollution levels and that they will hear it at length.
The CJI informed the court that they were not going to dispose or close this matter even if the pollution has come down and the court will hear the matter on November 29th, the CJI however indicated that the committee can continue reviewing the directions subject to the pollution levels.
When the hearing for the matter commenced, Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General, submitted that the pollution levels have come down as compared to last week owing to the wind flow. He further informed the court that the wind is likely to flow in the same direction for a couple of days.
The CJI at this point intervened and informed the SG that they would like to know the steps that have been taken, he further informed that a few people have filed application for intervention in the case. The SG submitted that the ban on construction has been lifted for the time being while other directions continue till further orders.
The SG further submitted that as per the opinion of the court, special buses have been arranged for central government employees to bring down vehicular movement and the magistrates in the respective areas have been given the duty to monitor these buses.
Justice Chandrachud pointed out that these measures are ad-hoc and that the commission should conduct a scientific study and has to come up with a model to predict the increase in air pollution before hand. The CJI added to this by questioning the government as to what their plans were ultimately, asking if these restrictions will come into effect automatically if the air quality dips to a certain level.
The SG submitted that the government has in its affidavit dated 16th November laid down a plan to curb the pollution. Justice Chandrachud further questioned the SG noting that while the plan indicates that when the weather becomes severe, certain measures will be taken, the government needs to anticipate the dip in air quality considering the wind pattern and and be prepared.
The CJI further informed that the court is inclined to permit the internal construction to go on subject to certain measures since it will affect the lives of daily wage earners. He further questioned the counsel appearing for a group of workers as to how much funds are available in the labour workers funds at the states. The counsel submitted that the Delhi construction board alone has Rs.2700 crores as of March. The CJI opined that the States can use these funds to support the labourers in case of shut down owing to pollution.
The bench before rising indicated that they will pass directions in this regard.
A 17 year old college student Aditya Dubey had in 2020 filed a Public Interest Litigation regarding alarming levels of air pollution in Delhi. The case was listed today in view of an application filed by the petitioners asking the court to pass appropriate orders in the light of excessive levels of air pollution in Delhi at present.
The case will now be heard on 28th November.
Case title : Aditya Dubey Vs Union of India
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