Two Delhi smog towers shut; unhappy Supreme Court summons pollution body chief | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Two Delhi smog towers shut; unhappy Supreme Court summons pollution body chief amid AAP vs BJP

Nov 07, 2023 01:34 PM IST

Delhi Air Pollution: The Supreme Court directed the Delhi government to ensure that municipal solid waste was not burnt in the open.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned Delhi Pollution Control Committee chairman Ashwani Kumar for reportedly shutting down the two smog towers in the national capital and directed operationalising the towers immediately. The Supreme Court also directed Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to ensure that crop residue burning was stopped "forthwith".

The smog tower at Delhi's Connaught Place is locked up amid severe pollution, in New Delhi on November 4. (PTI)
The smog tower at Delhi's Connaught Place is locked up amid severe pollution, in New Delhi on November 4. (PTI)

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, hearing air pollution petitions, said Delhi can't be made to go through this year after year. "There cannot be a political battle every time," the bench told the counsel representing the Punjab government.

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The court directed Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to stop stubble burning "forthwith", making chief secretaries and director general of police concerned responsible for overseeing the implementation of the court order.

The court also directed the Delhi government to ensure that municipal solid waste was not burnt in the open. While hearing a matter pertaining to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR, the bench flagged issues like crop residue burning, vehicular pollution and burning of waste in the open.

Amid criticism by the Bharatiya Janata Party over severe air pollution in Delhi, environment minister Gopal Rai on Saturday claimed that the smog tower in the city's Connaught Place was inoperational due to non-payment by the Centre. Rai said as the Delhi Air Quality Index (AQI) worsened, several BJP leaders went to the Connaught Place-located smog tower and made videos accusing the Aam Aadmi Party of being behind it. He said there are two smog towers in Delhi. One is located in Anand Vihar, which is run by the central government, while the other is in Connaught Place, which is operated by the Delhi government. The environment minister added that the smog tower in Connaught Place has been shut down arbitrarily on the orders of DPCC Ashwani Kumar.

He alleged that Kumar, who assumed the role of DPCC chairman in December last year “stopped the release of funds” to IIT-Bombay and other agencies working on the project.

The DPCC had, however, recently suggested that the smog tower be shut down as it was found to be "largely ineffective in tackling air pollution". It also noted the site should be used as an environmental and climate change innovation centre.

The Supreme Court said, “We are at zero level patience on this issue now” and hoped to get some redemption from polluted air by Friday.

It has posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.

Pollution levels in Delhi were recorded in the "very poor" category on Tuesday morning after five consecutive days of severe air quality.

The concentration of PM2.5 - fine particulate matter capable of penetrating deep into the respiratory system and triggering health problems - exceeded the government-prescribed safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre by seven to eight times in the capital.

It was 30 to 40 times the healthy limit of 15 micrograms per cubic metre set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Several cities in neighbouring Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have also reported hazardous air quality. Ghaziabad recorded an AQI of 338, Gurugram 364, Noida 348, Greater Noida 439 and Faridabad 382.

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