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Tackling toxic NCR air: SC asks Centre

The court asked the Punjab government to come up with concrete steps or measures to control pollution. "We want action in the issue," Justice Surya Kant said.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre and neighbouring states, to start considering immediately imposing work from home norms for the time being to deal with the urgency of rising pollution levels.

“We direct the Centre and States of NCR region to impose work from home for the meantime to deal with the situation,” a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said.

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The bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant directed the chief secretaries of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana governments, to be present at a November 16 meeting, and listed the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.

The apex court directed the Centre to call the emergency meeting of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and UP on Tuesday for taking urgent measures about persuading farmers to stop stubble burning, action needed to stop non-essential vehicular traffic, industrial pollution and dust control measures.

During the course of the hearing, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Delhi government saying “lame excuses” would force it to hold an audit of earnings and expenditure on popularity slogans.

The Delhi government told the Supreme Court Bench it is ready to impose complete lockdown but it would be “a meaningful effort” if lockdown is implemented across the NCR areas in neighbouring states as well.

The Centre filed its detailed affidavit in the pollution case, before the apex court stating the kind of measures it has taken and will take in the future to control pollution.

The Centre, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, told the Supreme Court bench that only 10 per cent of the pollution in Delhi-NCR is being caused due to stubble burning in the neighbouring states. It said 75 per cent of the pollution in the national capital region is caused by industries, dust and vehicles or transport in the city.

The Supreme Court warned the Delhi Government that the lame excuses being made by it on the issue of controlling air pollution in the national capital and NCR will compel the apex to hold a proper audit of the revenues being collected by the Aam Aadmi Party government and what was being done with it.

The court asked the Punjab government to come up with concrete steps or measures to control pollution. “We want action in the issue,” Justice Surya Kant said.

“Delhi govt may initiate a lockdown if possible,” lawyer Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government told the Supreme Court.

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