Lockdown in Delhi? SC asks govt to prepare plan to combat pollution

The Supreme Court said that the blame cannot be entirely on farmers for burning stubble, and that the public is equally responsible for bursting high volumes of firecrackers.
A group of people crossing the road in smog-filled Gurugram
A group of people crossing the road in smog-filled Gurugram
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The Supreme Court on Saturday, November 13, termed the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR an "emergency" situation and asked the Union and Delhi governments to take emergency measures to improve the air quality. A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana urged the Union government to take serious and urgent action to improve the air quality of Delhi, including thinking of a two-day lockdown. The bench said that the situation of pollution is so bad that people are wearing masks even inside their houses, and that the blame cannot entirely be put on farmers for burning stubble.

"Everybody has the passion of blaming farmers. Have you seen how crackers are being burnt in Delhi for the last seven days? It is an emergency situation, multiple measures are needed to be taken on the ground level," the bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, said. The Supreme Court has asked the Union government to reply on the same on Monday, November 15.

The top court also took note of the fact that schools have opened in the national capital and asked the authorities to take immediate measures such as stopping the movement of vehicles or imposing a lockdown in Delhi.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, said that there is stubble burning in Punjab, adding to the pollution levels in Delhi. The Supreme Court bench, however, said, "Your projection is as if farmers are only responsible. What about steps taken to contain the pollution in Delhi?” Justice Surya Kant and Chief Justice Ramana are from farming families themselves. The SG, however, clarified that he was not suggesting that only farmers are responsible, and said that he would bring forward statistics on steps taken by the government to dissuade farmers from burning stubble on Monday, LiveLaw reports.

To that, the bench observed that there are other causes of pollution which are not being addressed. “Post pandemic schools have opened up, we are exposing little children to this at 7 in the morning,” Justice Chandrachud said. The bench stressed that urgent action is required to combat the pollution, and that they “want to feel better in two-three days”.

(With PTI inputs)

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