NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India on Saturday took a serious view of the severe pollution engulfing Delhi-NCR and told the Centre to consider declaring a two-day lockdown to curb the air pollution.
The court asked the government to consider some immediate measures to bring the pollution in Delhi-NCR down from the current “severe” levels. “Air pollution is a serious situation,” Chief Justice NV Ramana noted while hearing a petition on air pollution in Delhi.
“Tell us how we can reduce AQI from 500 at least by 200 points. Take some urgent measures. Can you think of two days lockdown or something? How can people live?” the CJI-led bench said. “We want urgent measures to be taken and in two-three days time the pollution should reduce,” the court told the Centre. People are forced to wear masks even in their homes, it observed.
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The apex court said stubble burning has to be tackled in a long-term measure, but, emergency measures are to be taken without delay. “Air quality in Delhi is in the ‘severe’ category and in another 2 to 3 days it will dip further. Take an emergency decision. We will look at a long-term solution later,” the court directed the government.
The court said stubble burning has to be tackled in a long-term measure. But, emergency measures are to be taken without states and the Centre playing politics or blame game over it. “You have to look at this issue beyond politics and government,” it said.
The court asked the Centre to ask Punjab and Haryana to stop stubble burning for at least two days to bring down pollution as Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta said that the situation may not improve till November 17.
The top court further said the central government says expensive machines are available for stubble burning and farmers can’t afford to buy them. “Why can’t Centre/state governments provide these machines to farmers or take away the stubble?” SC questioned.
Taking a note of the opening of schools in Delhi, the court said, “Little children have to go to school in this weather, we are exposing them to this. Dr Guleria (AIIMS chief) said we are exposing them to pollution, pandemic and dengue.”
“Have you taken any step to close the schools or address the situation? What happened to the smog towers you were to put up? Are they working,” the SC asked.
The top court said urgent measures are to be taken after solicitor general Tushar Mehta said the ambient air condition may turn to emergency levels.
The SG said that emergency meetings of the Centre and state governments are scheduled for this afternoon.
The SC asked the Centre to inform on Monday the decisions taken to address the emergency situation caused by air pollution.
Meanwhile, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has called an emergency meeting today to tackle air pollution. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, health minister Satyendar Jain, environment minister Gopal Rai and Delhi chief secretary will take part in the meeting.