The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to invite proposals from the general public and experts for a permanent solution to air pollution woes in the Delhi-NCR region.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana directed that the suggestions received should be considered by an expert group constituted by the Commission. The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, was hearing a plea seeking measures to alleviate Delhi’s pollution.
On the previous date of hearing, the Supreme Court had asked all those who had approached it with applications seeking various reliefs in respect of the restrictions imposed by the directions of the Commission to approach the Commission itself.
Thursday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that deliberations were held with all those who had filed applications. Companies manufacturing life-saving equipment are allowed to use diesel gensets and Dairy and medical manufacturing are also allowed, he said.
He added that as far as industries are concerned, they were allowed for eight hours, but by their nature, some of them have to operate continuously. “So we have limited it to five days a week and staggered it further”, Mehta said.
Mehta said thermal power plants which were shut down continue to be so but more will not be shut as discussed with the power ministry.
All hospital constructions are permitted and for the others, only interior works are allowed. On other constructions, the commission will take a call on Friday, he submitted.
Mehta said there is continuous inspection by flying squads. He added that there is a committee for long term solutions with NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) experts so that a knee-jerk reaction is not needed every year.
Ahead of the hearing, the Commission had filed an affidavit in the court informing it that after considering representations from several quarters, it had decided to lift the ban on certain industries.
Milk and dairy processing units in the NCR have been permitted to resume 24×7 operations, industries manufacturing medicines, drugs and life-saving equipment have been allowed to resume full-time operations. Paper and pulp processing industries can work five times a week while paddy, rice and textile industries have been allowed to operate five days a week.
The Commission said it had also decided that industries that were closed due to failure to switch to piped natural gas can now operate eight hours a day.
Power plants have been allowed to operate keeping in view the demand after the power ministry said that existing plants would not be shut anymore. Even the six plants located within the 300 km radius of Delhi that were shut to control pollution cannot remain closed beyond December 15.
Schools in the national capital will continue to work only via online mode and this will be reviewed on December 17, the affidavit said.
Taking note of the affidavit and the submissions, the bench adjourned hearing in the matter till the first week of February.