On pollution in Delhi, Supreme Court suggests imposing lockdown for 2 days

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The Supreme Court on Saturday suggested that the Centre and the Delhi government may consider imposing a lockdown of two days in the national capital in view of the high pollution levels. The court’s observations came while hearing a case in this matter.

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Raman, Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said that the air quality in Delhi is in the “severe” category and will dip further in another 2-3 days. In asked the Centre to take an emergency decision.

“Tell us how we can reduce AQI from 500 at least by 200 points. Take some urgent measures. Can you think of two days lockdown or something? How can people live? We will look at a long term solution later,” it said.

“You have to look at this issue beyond politics and government. Something must happen so that in two to three days we feel better,” the bench told the Centre.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government is going to hold a meeting today where the focus will be on the emergency situation of air pollution.

The Centre further said in its response that we have to be watchful till November 18, as per its consultation with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), which has cited a spurt in stubble burning as one of the reasons.

The court, however, said that farmers alone can’t be blamed for the rising pollution levels over stubble burning and that the authorities must deal with other causes too, including vehicular pollution, dust and industrial pollution.

The court then asked the Delhi government about what happened to its decision to install smog towers and emission control projects. “This is not the Centre’s but your jurisdiction. What is happening on that front?” the apex court asked the Delhi government. After the court’s rap, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has called an emergency meeting today at 5pm.

The court then directed Centre to call an emergency meeting of all the stakeholders and posted the matter for hearing on Monday.

The air quality level in Delhi plunged to near emergency levels on Friday, with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recording an AQI of 471. It was 411 on Thursday.

A sub-committee on Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) said meteorological conditions will be highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants till November 18 and agencies concerned must be fully ready to implement measures under “emergency” category.

A record number of farm fires is believed to be one of the major reasons for pushing up Delhi’s pollution. According to an analysis of data from heat-sensing satellites done by Hindustan Times, there have been 24,694 incidents of fire recorded since November 8.

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