With air quality in the capital deemed “severe”, the Delhi High Court Friday sought the response of the Delhi government on a plea to combat “emergency-like pollution situation” in the capital. A vacation bench of Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal and Justice C Hari Shankar also sought to know the stand of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
The bench, however, refrained from issuing any direction in view of the fact that authorities in the city have already alerted people to avoid staying outdoors, and Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has ordered halt in all civil construction activities across the city till Sunday.
“The authorities are taking care of the issue,” it said, listing the matter for further hearing on July 25. The bench also observed orally that since there is no request for any immediate relief, it cannot do anything at this hour except issue a notice to the respondents.
Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan told the HC that a meeting had been called by the L-G on Thursday after severe pollution levels were seen over a 24-hour period. “All steps in this regard have been taken,” he said, adding that dust is a natural phenomenon. “Data says it has receded and will normalise by tomorrow (Saturday).”
Mihir Garg and Rashi Jain, residents of Delhi and students of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, submitted that the L-G orders to stop construction are an eyewash since construction activity has not been stopped even at the Patiala House court premises. The two petitioners contended that they have waited for approximately two days for authorities to take adequate steps to combat the environmental emergency.
“However, seeing no substantial action taken by the respondents, we approached this court,” their plea stated. The plea said that it has become “impossible for any person in Delhi to breathe and walk properly on the streets, without having an apprehension of death due to air pollution or inheriting serious disease like cancer, etc”.
They sought directions to the Delhi government’s Department of Environment and the DPCC to use more environmental friendly ways such as vacuum cleaners to suck dust from the road.