Updated: November 25, 2021 7:47:27 am
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and NCR states to continue with measures already suggested to tackle air pollution in the national capital and mooted a scientific approach based on a statistical model to alleviate the situation in the long run.
“All these are ad hoc measures… Response has to be based on a statistical model for Delhi… The Commission (for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas) has to set up a scientific study… There has to be a statistical model which says if these are the steps we take in the next seven days given the wind directions, these are the advantages we can get,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, sharing a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, said.
Referring to the submissions that restrictions directed by the Commission will kick in as soon as the conditions turn severe, Justice Chandrachud said: “This is the national capital. Look at the signal we are sending to the world. The response has to be based on a statistical model for Delhi… You don’t have to wait till air quality becomes severe. You anticipate it’s likely to happen with this wind pattern… You will have to define what are the acceptable levels of pollution in Delhi… So you have to make models for different seasons… A scientific model based on seasons and wind direction has to be made… The Indian Meteorological Department has data of past years. Based on what it was for the last five years, a model can be prepared, how it will be in the next 15 days,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding that a graded response will be required.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, that what is being followed is a graded response and that there is a long-term plan.
He took the court through measures put in place and said that after the last hearing, only the ban on construction activities, which was put in place till November 21, has not continued.
The rest of the measures directed by the commission — ban on entry of trucks into Delhi, ensuring that no petrol vehicles older than 15 years or diesel vehicles older than 10 years ply on NCR roads, increasing CNG buses, deployment of anti-smog guns, more water sprinklers and application of dust suppressants in all vulnerable hotspots, and a ban on diesel gensets except for emergency services — continue to be in place.
The SG pointed out that the AQI on Wednesday morning was 290 as compared to 403 last week. As a result, the construction ban was not extended, he said, adding that the air quality will improve due to wind flow.
The CJI, after cross checking, however said: “You are saying 290. We checked, it’s 318 at the moment… I think there is no substantial change in these two days. It was less. It is going back to serious or appears to. So take the measures for 2-3 days. Monday (November 29) morning we will hear it again. If the pollution level comes down drastically, say to 200, you are free to withdraw the restrictions.”
The CJI also sought to know how much money is available under the labour welfare fund with states. “Each state has thousands of crores. Let them pay these workers for these three-four days,” he added.
He also asked whether any study has been undertaken by the states on how much stubble has been taken out or how many machines given?
“What is the bureaucracy doing on all these issues… Let the state and central secretaries sit and discuss what can be done,” the CJI said.
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