The Supreme Court on Friday criticised the Centre for not using funds worth Rs 77,000 crore meant for protection of the environment, observing that if the funds were used in a proper manner, Delhi would not be facing severe air pollution, PTI reported.

The court’s observations came after Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, representing the Centre, said that the government had collected Rs 91,000 crore under various funds as per the Supreme Court’s order on funds for protection of the environment.

“We are talking about Rs 91,000 crore. It appears that only Rs 14,000 crore has been spent,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the Centre. “We have no idea where these Rs 14,000 crore has gone. Maybe, the fund was used for good purposes but now Rs 77,000 crore is left. You are sitting on it.”

The bench further said: “It is meant for the sake of environment of the country and for benefit of the people. What are you doing on it? Why this is not being utilised?”

The bench also rejected Nadkarni’s statement that the Centre had issued circulars to the states about the funds, and instructed that they not be used for foreign trips. “We want to make it clear that this Rs 91,000 crore funds cannot be treated as revenue of the Union of India or the states,” the bench said. It added that the Centre must write to the states on the matter.

The bench also said a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India showed that funds meant for the welfare of building and construction workers were spent on purchasing laptops and washing machines for them, a claim the court called a “joke”.