The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a detailed plan from the Centre on how it plans to tackle the alarming levels of pollution in Delhi in two days. It made note of suggestions offered by the Environment Pollution Control Authority, environmentalist Sunita Narain and other parties and directed the government to frame a Common Minimum Programme in 48 hours' time, The Indian Express reported.
"Do you have a plan before pollution attains such a lethal level that the entire city will be shut down and human lives are threatened?" Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said. "...First schools are shut down. When it becomes further dangerous, construction activities, etc, are shut down...[then] hazardous industries are shut down. When it becomes lethal, the entire city is shut down."
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who sought two days' time for the Centre to come up with a comprehensive plan, blamed the rise in pollution in the national capital on uncontrolled industrialisation and commercialisation. "...There are no residential areas here...everywhere, there is mixed use of land...Even cars are left idling, releasing toxic carbons," he said, according to The Hindu.
The top court bench has advised the government to upgrade its policies on pollution. Justice AK Sikri criticised the public's complete disregard for warnings about environmental damage during their Diwali celebrations. "We have to look at why in the name of religious occasions we are being allowed to kill others," he said in reference to citizens bursting crackers. On Monday, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung directed authorities to ban firecrackers from being burst in the region during occasions other than religious festivals.
Earlier on Tuesday, the National Green Tribunal questioned Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party government about measures taken to deal with the hazardous pollution levels in the region. The tribunal asked the state administration whether it had held any meetings in August and September to discuss ways to tackle pollution. It said fire crackers burnt during Diwali and crop burning were "known factors" that could have been avoided or addressed ahead of time.