Delhi continues to remain enveloped in toxic air

The Supreme Court said today that the air quality crisis in Delhi calls for a scientific study, and “ad-hoc measures” won’t help. The court stressed in a stern warning that, “Even if the pollution level goes down now, we will continue to hear this case and issue directions.” On the issue of farm fires, the court made it clear that it “can’t micromanage”. The government should decide on fines.

The court highlighted, “This is the national capital. Look at the signal we are sending to the world. You have to predict the situation based on statistics… and take action in anticipation so that the situation does not go severe.”

The Delhi government was told, “Now there are supercomputers… there needs to be a statistical model.”

This morning, Delhi’s AQI (Air Quality Index) was in the “very poor” category. After a widespread violation of the ban on crackers, the air quality deteriorated earlier this month.

The court said today, that the acceptable AQI levels for the national capital should be defined. The top court had highlighted how this has become an annual problem, in the last hearing.

 It added this morning that the Air Quality Commission should conduct a scientific study based on the wind direction. “These ad-hoc measures won’t help. What are the steps you will take and the impact of that in the next seven days is what we want?”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the central government replied that “I have listed immediate steps. There are long-term plans also. We have come up with graded measures.”

 “The issue of stubble burning needs to be taken care of. If farmers are compensated, farm fires can be controlled”, Lawyer Vikas Singh, representing the petitioner, said.

In response, the court replied, “Has there been any study on how much stubble has been removed in Punjab, Haryana, and UP? This is going to be a big problem. How are you going to tackle the stubble-burning issue? We are using our common sense in discussing this issue. What is the bureaucracy doing? Let the Secretaries decide something… why can’t they go to fields and speak to the farmers, scientists and devise a permanent solution?”

This is the third straight week that the air pollution issue was heard in the top court.

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