The Supreme Court on Wednesday re-imposed the ban on construction activities in Delhi and the National Capital Region in view of air pollution, reported Live Law.

The ban had been lifted by the Commission for Air Quality Management from November 22 as the pollution levels in the region had slightly reduced.

The Supreme Court, while reversing the commission’s decision, said that non-polluting activities related to construction – plumbing, carpentry and electrical work – could be allowed.

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant directed state governments to use the money collected as labour cess to compensate workers during the time construction is banned.

Delhi and its neighbouring areas have been grappling with poor air quality since Diwali, forcing schools to shut down and offices to allow employees to work from home.

The Supreme Court has been hearing a public interest litigation related to the pollution crisis.

At the hearing on Wednesday, the court pointed out that measures to curb air pollution in Delhi are being taken only when the situation becomes severe. “This is the national Capital, imagine the signal we are sending to the world,” the court observed.

The judges said that instead of waiting for the air quality to deteriorate to take action, the Commission for Air Quality Management must take steps in advance, keeping weather conditions in mind, Live Law reported.

“For this purpose, it is necessary for the Commission to engage expert agencies with domain knowledge in meteorological data and statistical modelling,” the court said. “The Commission must commission a scientific study of air quality based on available data of previous years bearing upon recorded levels of air pollution. The study must factor in seasonal variations and other relevant parameters.”

The court gave the commission a month to complete the exercise.

Compensation for workers

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said that the government will compensate the workers for their losses that may result due to halt in construction activities, ANI reported.

“I have given an order today to deposit Rs 5,000 each in bank accounts of construction workers in view of a ban on construction activities due to air pollution,” he said. “We will also provide compensation to workers for their loss according to their minimum wages.”