Delhi Pollution: Supreme Court issues 24-hour ultimatum to the government

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Supreme Court of India pulls up Centre and Delhi government over air pollution (Image: Ankit Pal)
Supreme Court of India pulls up Centre and Delhi government over air pollution (Image: Ankit Pal)

New Delhi : The Supreme Court has expressed dissatisfaction over the measures taken by the Delhi government In the last few weeks to reduce air pollution. "We feel that nothing is happening and the pollution keeps increasing... only time is being wasted," Chief Justice NV Ramana said during the hearing.

This was the fourth straight week that the court heard arguments over the air crisis in the national capital and nearby cities.

Issuing a warning to the Centre and Delhi government, the Supreme Court gave 24-hour time limit to act against the industrial and vehicular pollution, which have been noted as the prime reason behind the pollution.

Delhi's air quality deteriorated sharply last month after Diwali. Farm fires were also cited as a source - but that led to debates and blame games. A month on, the city is still gasping for air. 

The apex body also pulled up Delhi government for the decision to reopen the schools in the national capital. It said that three and four year olds are going to school while the older people are sticking with work from home option.

"We will appoint somebody to administer your government," Chief Justice Ramana said.

Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi - representing the Delhi government - responded: "On schools, there is a lot of debate on 'learning loss'. We reopened with the condition including the option for online."

"You are saying you left it optional. But who wants to sit at home? We also have children and grandchildren. We know the problems they have been facing since the pandemic. If you don't take action we will take strict action tomorrow. We are giving you 24 hours," the Chief Justice said in sharp response.

Delhi schools were reopened on Monday after 10 days of closure due to severe category air pollution.

"When hearings on the issue started there was a certain AQI (Air Quality Index). If as many efforts as you are claiming have been made then why is pollution increasing? That is the simple question a layman will ask. So many arguments by lawyers and so many government claims. But why is pollution increasing?" the Chief Justice asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

"Nothing has been followed. While we came to court there are people sitting in the middle of the road with banners of 'Save environment'. that's why we say...only popularity slogans," Justice Chandrachud said.

The matter will again be heard in the court on Friday.