New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Center to answer questions related to construction activities, including the Central Vista project under its domain, in addition to asking the states of Delhi and the NCR to file their responses to show compliance with the instructions issued by the commission on air quality management to curb pollution.
The Commission for the Management of Air Quality in the NCR and Adjacent Areas said it had held meetings and adopted instructions to tackle air pollution well in advance and urged the supreme court to request a report from states on issues such as the status of fuel-powered industries. , with the exception of PNG, implementation of directive to ban diesel generator sets (DGs), impoundment of old petrol / diesel vehicles and on measures taken by states to control dust.
Observing that “the intentions (of the Air Quality Commission) are good and instructions are given but the result is nil,” a special bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana said immediate compliance panel instructions by states was necessary and punitive. measures like imposing a fine of Rs 1,000 or ordering offenders one day in prison will not work.
Senior lawyer Vikas Singh, representing the petitioner, told the judiciary, which also includes Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, that construction activities for large projects like Central Vista are in full swing and such a project will not may not be “more important than the lives of citizens”.
Taking note of the submissions, the judiciary, in its order, said: “Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General is invited to file a response to said communication made by Vikas Singh… and to obtain instructions on his behalf at the next due date. hearing. . ”
The judiciary also took note of the affidavit of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change and stated: “We are inclined to grant an opportunity to the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the state governments. from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan to respond to the assertions made in the affidavit filed by Respondent No. 1, well before Wednesday December 1. ”
“We would like to know specifically from state governments which directives have since been respected by them and those which have not yet been respected by them, as well as the reasons for this non-compliance,” said the order.
He added: “We further call on state governments to immediately comply with said instructions and to file affidavits of compliance on this behalf well in advance of the next hearing date.”
At the start, Singh said, “Large projects are the main contributors to air pollution. Central Vista cannot be more important than the lives of the citizens of this country. This project continues unabated. Today I also checked this. When this court imposed the ban, then how is it going ”.
The solicitor general, appearing for the Center, said he would justify the post. As Singh continued to press for the alleged construction of the Central Vista project, the bench said the Center had been asked to brief.
“The question now is that we’re fighting over how to control pollution and whether it’s Central Vista or polluting industries or states… Do you think we don’t know anything? We also know. The Center files the response, the States file… Do not report certain problems which ultimately lead to a situation where the main problem is diverted, ”observed the bench.
CJI referred to AQI and said it was 419. “There is another problem with the virus, how to deal with it,” CJI added. “We can deal with the virus separately,” the court officer said.
The court pointed out the issue of the Center’s late filing of the affidavit by saying “how do you expect us to read the affidavit.” You gave the pile of documents in the morning. Do they want the judges not to read it? ”
“I’m sure it’s in a lighter vein. We worked until 2 am and submitted the affidavit,” replied the court officer.
The judiciary took note of the observations of the judicial officer on the actions taken by the pollution panel and declared that it was useless to “look repeatedly at the instructions issued by you (panel)”.
“This committee has been working since June and some of its guidelines have been followed and some of them have been partially followed … Now we are concerned about the states, we will ask the states concerned what they have to say., “It said.
“The second thing is Delhi and Delhi, in some areas Indian government is responsible and in some areas state government is responsible. “have not respected. respected,” said the bench.
Senior lawyer AM Singhvi, representing the government of Delhi, said that, as directed by the Supreme Court, he distributed the amount to workers affected by the construction ban.
The panel urged the Supreme Court to request a compliance report from Delhi and other states on polluting industries, indicating that instructions have been issued to move industries operating in NCR districts to PNG / cleaner fuels. .
“Industries that already have a gas supply, but still use other polluting fuels, have been ordered to be closely and regularly monitored to switch to cleaner gaseous fuels as soon as possible. to order the respective state governments to file their compliance reports … “the affidavit reads.