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Are you waiting for people to die: SC to pollution board over Delhi’s condition

delhi Updated: Nov 11, 2016 13:28 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
Air pollution in Delhi,Smog in Delhi,Central Pollution Control Board
The SC bench did not appreciate solicitor general Ranjit Kumar’s submission that the situation worsened in Delhi due to stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.(Raj K Raj/HT FILE)

The Supreme Court pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for groping in the dark and failing to draw a plan to curb the deteriorating air quality in the Capital.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur wondered whether the agency wants the people to die before devising a strategy.

“Do you want to wait till people start dying... people are gasping for breath,” said a bench, upset on learning that the Centre has not been able to come up with a roadmap to deal with the “emergency situation” despite its direction on November 8.

“Unfortunately, no thought has been given to prepare a response to react to different levels of pollution,” the bench noted, saying the petitions pertaining to bad air quality in Delhi is pending before it for several years now.

“Why do you want to wait till people start dying? People are gasping for breath. Courts are passing orders, newspapers are writing, the NGT is passing orders, yet you don’t even feel the need to plan a strategy?” the CJI said when CPCB director, SPS Parihar, could not specify what measures need to be taken to tackle the problem.

The CPCB is a statutory body created by an Act of Parliament to recommend and take steps to combat pollution.

The bench did not appreciate solicitor general Ranjit Kumar’s submission that the situation worsened in Delhi due to stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

Read: Smoggy days may return to Delhi as wind slows down

“Don’t blame the neighbouring states. Look here (in Delhi). What about the dust, construction and enforcement in this city? Don’t just stand here and make statements. Please do something,” the bench said.

It even refused to accept the solicitor’s argument that the implementing agencies had failed to carry out their duties, though there are several directives and directions to them from various courts. “We are not satisfied with this response,” the court said.

Asking Parihar to convene a meeting on November 19 and take suggestions from all stakeholders, including those who have moved the SC for taking corrective measures, the bench said he must come up with a concrete plan by November 25, the next hearing.

“We want you to take into consideration all the different inputs which are coming and draw a plan where you can have a proper system, a proper centralised control room, a graded level of air quality and also the response to it. You have to evolve a consensus. You must not allow the things to go out of your hands,” the bench said.

First Published: Nov 11, 2016 13:26 IST