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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Consider cloud-seeding, bring back odd-even to tackle smog: Delhi HC

The court asks the top officials of several northern states to meet in three days and draw up a plan to tackle the pollution build-up

delhi Updated: Nov 09, 2017 14:22 IST
Soibam Rocky Singh
Soibam Rocky Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Commuters wear masks as they walk along a road amid heavy smog in New Delhi on Thursday.
Commuters wear masks as they walk along a road amid heavy smog in New Delhi on Thursday. (AFP photo)

The Delhi high court asked the Centre and the city government on Thursday to consider cloud seeding as a way to create artificial rain as an effort to reduce a sudden build-up of pollution in the national capital region.

Calling the toxic smog an “emergency situation”, the Delhi High Court judges S Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva also directed the secretary of the Union environment ministry and the chief secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to meet within three days and draw up an action plan to bring down air pollution levels.

“The official shall also consider the feasibility of cloud seeding,” the bench said, adding that Bangalore has already used the technology to make artificial rain.

The high court also directed the city government to consider introducing the odd-even scheme, which restricts alternate days for using vehicles depending on whether the registration ends in an odd or even number. This, the court said was necessary to bring down traffic congestion and unclog the city.

The comments came on a day the country’s environment and human rights watchdogs said the pollution build-up was life threatening.

The court was of the opinion that though stubble burning is the “visible villain”, the authorities should address the “other elephant in the room” such as dust generated by road and construction activity and industries.

“London has faced this kind of air pollution. They term it as pea soup fog which is a killer fog. This is a deadly mixture of construction, vehicular dust and other factors,” the bench said.

The court directed the government and other civic authorities to ensure there is proper washing of capital’s roads with water to stop generation of dust. It also directed immediate ban on felling of trees.

To bring down harmful particulate-matter generated by construction, the high court directed the authorities to implement construction code.

It also directed the city government to take a survey of all the hospitals in the capital for availability of oxygen supply to deal with emergencies, particularly the ones involving the more vulnerable children and senior citizens.

The court directed the government to ensure strict enforcement on entry of trucks in the capital.

During the hearing, the bench questioned the government’s hike in the rate of parking by four times. “If somebody has to go to a hospital or to buy certain important items he ends up paying four times more for the parking” the bench said.

The court was hearing a case initiated by its own on the issue of air pollution in the capital. It has posted the hearing for November 16.

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 13:51 IST

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