The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to apprise it about the steps taken so far by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas to tackle air pollution. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde was told by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, that the government is readying a comprehensive affidavit to be filed in the apex court in the matter.
You file your affidavit, said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian. The top court said the affidavit should have details of what steps have been taken till now by the Commission. During the proceedings conducted through video-conferencing, the apex court, which was hearing the matters relating to air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), was told that the Commission has not done anything.
The committee has 14 members but they have not done anything. They should file some affidavit, senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for petitioner Aditya Dubey who has raised the issue of pollution caused due to stubble burning in neighbouring states of Delhi, said.
To this, Bhati said, Our affidavit is ready. Give us two-day indulgence. One of the lawyers appearing in the matter claimed that stubble burning has risen by five per cent. We are readying a comprehensive affidavit, Bhati told the bench, which posted the matter for hearing on December 17. At the outset, Singh told the bench that mentioning of urgent matter is not being allowed in the apex court at present.
We don't have so many links (of video-conferencing), the bench said. On November 6, the apex court had asked the Centre to ensure there is no smog in Delhi as it was informed that the Commission has started functioning from that day. The pollution problem has to be dealt with by the executive as it has the power, money and resources for this, the top court had said. The Centre had earlier appointed former Chief Secretary of Delhi M M Kutty as the chairperson of the Commission.
The Centre had told the apex court that there were experts from the field besides members from NGOs in the newly created Commission. On October 29, the top court was informed by the Centre that it has come out with an ordinance on curbing pollution and it has been promulgated already.
The top court had said that it would have to look at the Ordinance before passing any direction in the matter which has raised issues regarding pollution caused due to stubble burning in neighbouring states of Delhi.
The apex court had on October 26 kept in abeyance its earlier order appointing one-man panel of retired apex court judge Justice Madan B Lokur to monitor the steps taken by neighbouring states to prevent stubble burning which is a major cause of pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).
The apex court had kept in abeyance its order appointing Justice (retd) Lokur panel while considering the Centre's stand that it was coming out with a comprehensive legislation to deal with air pollution, including the aspect of stubble burning. During his tenure as an apex court judge, Justice Lokur who headed social-justice bench had dealt with pollution matters which included the aspect of stubble burning.
The top court is also hearing a separate plea filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta on air pollution and had last year even taken a suo motu note of alarming rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR where several directions have been passed with regard to stubble burning.