The Supreme Court will Tuesday hear a batch of PILs demanding immediate measures, including bringing back the odd-even rule for vehicles in the capital, to tackle the alarming rise in pollution in Delhi-NCR.
Chief Justice of India T S Thakur asked the registry to list the matter for an urgent hearing after a couple of lawyers, along with environmentalist Sunita Narain, approached the top court.
While advocate R K Kapoor sought listing of his fresh PIL on smog, lawyer Aparajita Singh requested that the court take up the latest report of the court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for National Capital Region (EPCA).
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Singh, who has been appointed as an amicus curiae in a PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta in 1985, pointed out that the level of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 was 14 times higher than the standard on November 5, which is both alarming and dangerous for health.
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“This is a level of pollution, which is higher than what was recorded during the London smog incident and certainly higher than what has been seen in Delhi ever… This severe smog episode… must be treated as a public health emergency,” said Singh, assisted by Narain.
She contended that although the top court passed a string of directives in December last year to ward off the recurrence of dense smog and high pollution during winter, no steps were taken on the ground. The CJI agreed to hear the case on an urgent basis and said the matter shall be taken up by a three-judge bench presided over by him.
The EPCA, in its report, has pressed for certain imperative directions, including strict levy of environment cess on trucks, control of dust pollution from construction activities, ban on garbage burning and shutting down thermal power plants during winter.
The authority has also favoured bringing back the odd-even rule, without any exemption. “The Punjab and Haryana governments must take all steps necessary to incentivise and penalise farmers so that burning of crop residues is checked,” it added.