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Consider Work From Home Says Supreme Court On Air Pollution

As Delhi citizens are finding it hard to even breathe and Air Quality Index dropping to the very poor category, the Delhi government is considering imposing a lockdown to tackle air pollution in the national capital. On Monday, the Supreme Court, while hearing the Delhi pollution crisis, asked the Delhi government to make decisions that can stop power plants, industries and vehicles for the time being to tackle the air pollution problem. The top court has also asked the Arvind Kejriwal-led government to consider work from home policy.

The Delhi government, in its affidavit submitted to the court, said: “GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) is ready to take steps like complete lockdown to control the local emissions. However, such a step would be meaningful if it is implemented across the NCR areas in neighbouring states. Given Delhi’s compact size, a lockdown would have limited impact on the air quality regime. This issue would need to be addressed at the level of airshed involving NCR areas. In view of the above, we are ready to consider this step if the same is mandated for the entire NCR areas by the government of India or by the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and adjoining areas,”

On the issue of stubble burning, Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, said to the Delhi government: “While stubble burning is not the major cause, there is a lot of stubble burning happening in Punjab and Haryana. We request state governments to pursue farmers to stop the burning for a week,” However, the court, in its order, also noted that industries, transport and road dust are the significant contributors of air pollution and not stubble burning. 

While pointing to the stubble burning issue, the Supreme Court said that it is not the primary cause of Delhi pollution as it only contributes 10% of dirty air and also blamed the Delhi government for solely focusing on stubble burning as the major cause of air pollution in its affidavit to the court. The last AQI had come down to the ‘severe’ category; however, it again came back to the ‘very poor’ category and stood at 338. The air quality index of Delhi’s neighbouring areas were 312 (Faridabad), 368 (Ghaziabad), 301 (Gurgaon) and 357 (Noida).

While hearing about the pollution crisis in Delhi, the Supreme Court instructed the centre to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow, asking the National Task Force on Air Quality to suggest possible measures to curb air pollution. Along with the centre, the top court has also instructed the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to be present in the meeting. On Sunday, officials said that the Delhi Traffic Police has intensified its measures against pollution violators, and teams have been deployed at 170 spots across the national capital for those still plying old vehicles. 

The Supreme Court has adjourned the Delhi Pollution matter till Wednesday, i.e. 17th November. 

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