Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Thursday said that the Supreme Court judges had consulted experts who noted that vehicular pollution is a major contributor to the depleting air quality in Delhi, reported Live Law. The top court made the oral observations while hearing a plea on declining pollution levels in the Capital.
“Some experts have told us that stubble burning is not the only cause, for instance we would like all of you to stop using your beautiful cars, which you won’t do,” Bobde said. “Start using your bicycles.”
During the hearing, the Centre told the top court that it had passed an ordinance aimed at reducing pollution and that it had been promulgated as well, reported PTI. The bench, also comprised of Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said: “We would like to look at the ordinance before passing any order. Even the petitioners would like to see. Let’s hear it next Friday.”
Senior lawyer Vikas Singh, representing the petitioners – a Class 12 student and a law student – said that the legislation would not be of use and that he had perused it. “By that time, the air quality will get even worse, I have seen the ordinance and [it] will not take care of anything this year,” he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday signed an ordinance to set up a commission for monitoring the air quality in Delhi and its neighbouring states. Non-compliance with the orders and provisions of the commission will attract a jail term of up to five years or a fine of Rs 1 crore or both.
The commission will be tasked with research and the identification and solution of problems related to air pollution. It will replace the Environment Pollution and Prevention Control Authority as the top body for monitoring air quality. The panel will monitor stubble burning, dust pollution and vehicular emissions, and submit annual reports to the Parliament.
On Monday, the top court had suspended the appointment of a committee to monitor stubble burning, after the Centre promised to create a permanent body through legislation to battle air pollution in Delhi and its neighbouring states. The Supreme Court had appointed retired Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur as the head of the committee.
Air quality of Delhi-NCR typically deteriorates in the winter months. On October 19, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had asked the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments to be ready to shut down thermal power plants that do not meet requirements laid down in 2015. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had urged Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to hold monthly meetings on pollution with the chief ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.
In October, Delhi Pollution Control Committee had banned the use of electricity generator sets of all capacities – whether running on diesel, petrol or kerosene – in order to curb the pollution. The committee had also declared the whole of the Union Territory of Delhi as an Air Pollution Control Area.