Lambasting the Delhi and Union govt for inaction to curb pollution in the national capital, Supreme Court bench headed by CJI NV Ramana on Monday, ordered work from home throughout the NCR. SC also urged states to persuade the farmers to stop stubble burning for a few days. Ordering the Centre and state govt to hold an executive committee meeting by Tuesday evening, the bench adjourned the matter to Wednesday. The SC bench of CJI NV Ramanna and Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant are hearing pleas on Delhi's air pollution as its air quality slipped into the 'very poor' category, recorded at 342.
The SC concluded that the major culprits of pollution are - Construction, Industries, vehicular traffic, while stubble burning was a lesser cause. Pulling up Delhi govt and Centre, the bench observed, "It's very unfortunate that we have to set an agenda for them," asking the committee created to decide on the action plan by tomorrow evening. The bench also ordered the chief secretaries of Punjab, UP, Haryana to be present for the committee meeting. The air quality index of Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Noida stood at 328, 340, 326 and 328 respectively at 9.05 AM.
Suggesting three steps to curb pollution, CJI Ramana said, "Three more drastic steps which haven’t been implemented are - Odd even scheme for vehicles, truck entry ban to delhi and severest would be Lockdown". With Centre asserting that stubble burning amounted to 10% of the pollution, SC noted that the Delhi govt's affidavit was only accusing farmers for pollution. The bench asked, "Are you trying to put blame on municipal corporations? Are you trying to pass the buck?".
Pulling up Haryana also, SC said, "Your affidavit is too loud on the fines imposed on farmers for stubble burning. But, this is completely silent on the incentives given to the farmers in order to encourage them not to burn stubble". The SC maintained 'We aren't concerned with the politics, just want the pollution to come down'.
The Centre in its affidavit refused to shut down the Badarpur plant, suggesting to increase natural gas fuel intake instead. It also stated that, if the AQI reduces beyond 500, trucks, traffic, schools etc, would be shut down in Delhi. Centre also suggested dust control measures at construction sites, reducing operation of coal-based power plants, closure of all hot mix plant, shutting all brick kilns, stopping use of diesel generating sets and fines on garbage burning. Delhi, in its affidavit, blamed stubble burning as the main reason and said it was ready to impose full lockdown amid worsening air quality.
A visible improvement in Delhi's air quality was recorded on Sunday although it was in the 'very poor' category. The national capital recorded a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 330 on Sunday as against 473 the previous day as emissions from farm fires in Haryana and Punjab dropped significantly. An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.