Supreme Court partially relaxes ban on construction activities as air quality stays in poor zone
The move came after the apex court took into account the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) suggestions that air quality index (AQI) in Delhi and surrounding areas has improved to ‘poor’ category from ‘severe’.Updated: Dec 10, 2019 05:47 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday partially relaxed the restrictions on construction and demolition activities imposed by it across the national capital region (NCR).
The move came after the apex court took into account the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) suggestions that air quality index (AQI) in Delhi and surrounding areas has improved to ‘poor’ category from ‘severe’.
A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta accepted the submissions made by the CPCB which suggested that construction can be permitted during the day between 6am and 6pm, considering the improvement in AQI. However, such construction activities should be undertaken in strict compliance with laid-down rules for dust control under the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) framed by Centre, the apex court said. The ban will remain in place from 6pm to 6am.
Construction activities in the NCR had ground to a halt after the Supreme Court had, on November 4, put a ban on construction and demolition activities due to the deteriorating AQI. The Supreme Court had also said that if any construction activity takes place, the local administration as well as the respective municipal authority, including the zonal commissioners and deputy zonal commissioners, would be personally held responsible.
The CPCB in its affidavit told the bench that as on December 4, the AQI of Delhi and Gurugram improved from ‘severe’ to ‘poor’ category in Delhi and Gurugram, and from ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ category in Ghaziabad and Noida. Delhi’s AQI was recorded at 296 at 4 pm on December 4, the affidavit stated.
The CPCB suggested that since the situation is not severe, only a partial ban is needed on construction activities and they can be permitted from 6am to 6pm. The suggestion was accepted.
Rising pollution levels in NCR despite various orders by the Supreme Court had incensed the bench in the last hearing on November 25, during which the bench had blamed the states of Punjab and Haryana for failure to control stubble burning by farmers. The bench had asked the CPCB and the states of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and UP to take a concrete decision on installation and operation of smog towers to control pollution. It had also asked the Centre to constitute a high-level committee to study the use and feasibility of various technologies for the same.
Centre’ s law officer, additional solicitor general Atmaram Nadkarni, on Monday informed the court that a high-level committee has been formed by the ministry of environment and forest pursuant to the Supreme Court’s direction. The bench ordered that the principal secretary, department of environment of Delhi, should be part of the committee which has to submit its report on use of technology to deal with air pollution by December 13. This aspect will now be considered during the next hearing which is to be held on December 16, when the bench will also examine data on stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and UP.