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Environmental Law-I

Supreme Court on Delhi’s Air Quality Crisis-

November 15, 2021.

By Nashrah Fatma

The Supreme Court heard a plea submitted by a group of concerned individuals, when the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi stood at 343 out of 500. The Court expressed its concern over rising air pollution levels and termed the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR as an “emergency situation, stressing that crucial measures needed to be taken.

Paddy stubble burning, dust from construction and demolition (C&D) activities, dust from roads and open areas; automobiles, and industry are among the five sources of poor air quality listed by the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM).

Enlisted below are the points observed by the Apex Court.

1. The Supreme Court voiced its disapproval with the recent executive meeting. “We didn't expect an executive emergency meeting to be conducted in this manner. We have to set the agenda, which is unfortunate. Construction is the sum and substance; power, transportation, dust, and stubble burning are the issues.” It further asked the committee that was created to decide how to put the action plan into effect.

2. The Supreme Court revisited the matter of stubble burning, emphasising that it is not a substantial concern. “We noted at the last hearing (on Saturday) that while stubble burning is not a huge concern, there are city-related issues. As a result, if you take action, the situation will improve.” The court said.

3. Chief Justice NV Ramana, who was part of a three-judge panel hearing a petition, urged the central and state governments to impose work-from-home policies for employees. “For the time being, we direct the centre and states of the national capital region to impose work from home”, he stated.

4. The Supreme Court further ordered that non-essential vehicular traffic be halted, as well as that industrial pollutants be reduced and dust be limited.

5. The apex court also requested that actions be taken to limit crop waste burning in neighbouring states- Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.

However, these steps would help in curbing pollution only if they are imposed in the whole of NCR in addition to Delhi.


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