The Supreme Court on Monday asked states in the National Capital Region and Punjab to apprise it about the implementation of various directions given by it and ‘The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas’ for curbing air pollution and said that it might set up an independent task force to ensure compliance.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said that while the intentions of the central authorities in issuing various directions to the states may be good, their implementation has been “zero”.
The Court also asked the Centre to explain the various construction activities happening within its jurisdiction in Delhi after senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioner, said that work on the Central Vista project was going on and contributing to dust pollution.
“We will ask states what they have done to implement…If they don’t (implement), we will create an independent task force ourselves”, the CJI said as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta took the court through the directions issued by the Commission from time to time.
“The only thing we have not done is taking criminal action”, the SG told the bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant. The CJI noted that a small fine or jail for one day is not going to help. “If they are not implementing, we have no option but to create a taskforce ourselves and ask them to implement”, he added.
Mehta said these directions were issued after discussion with state chief secretaries and other officials. He added, “We have now started personally visiting for compliance”.
“Nobody wants to implement…If you identify the issues, we will ask them to implement”, said the CJI.
Appearing for the Delhi government, senior advocate A M Singhvi said the NCT government had disbursed Rs 5,000 each to 2.95 lakh workers and also increased the number of CNG buses.
The counsel for Punjab said that the state was in discussion with other states who want the crop residues but the cost of transportation was a big problem. “Gujarat wants 14,000 tonnes…Rajasthan also wants…but transportation is hugely expensive”, he said, adding, “We will need a golden handshake from the Centre”.
Intervening, the SG said that he had discussed with the Environment Minister and the question may not be relevant anymore this year as the season is over. He added that something is in the works to deal with this.
Seeking replies from the states regarding compliance, the Court pointed out that the Centre’s affidavit in the matter indicates that while certain directions were implemented partially, some were not and that it wanted to give them an opportunity to reply. “If (directions) not complied with, we direct them to comply forthwith”, added the bench.
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