The Supreme Court has partially lifted the ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR after perusing a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The apex court has allowed construction activity between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Along with its judgement, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to submit the updated report on stubble burning up to December 11.
During the hearing on Monday, Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni told the Supreme Court bench that the Centre has constituted a high-level committee following the apex court's direction to examine the feasibility of using technology like smog towers to combat air pollution. Matters related to air pollution in Delhi will now be heard on December 16.
Early last month, the Supreme Court had banned all construction activities and waste burning in the national capital region in view of the severe air pollution levels. The court had also imposed fines on burning garbage, adding that local administration and zonal officers will be held accountable for any violation.
On November 25, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to constitute a high-level committee within three days to consider and work out modalities regarding other technologies to help combat pollution. The court had demanded a report on this issue within three weeks. It had asked the Delhi government to apprise it of the steps taken regarding anti-smog guns which spray atomised water 50 metres in the air to bring down pollutants and had said CPCB should be associated on the issue of anti-smog guns. The court had also asked the Centre and the Delhi government to reach a decision on installation of smog towers in Delhi-NCR to combat air pollution.
The Supreme Court bench pulled up the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for their failure to prevent instance of stubble burning despite the apex court's order. The court had asked all the states to explain within six weeks as to why they should not be made liable to pay compensation to persons affected by bad air quality saying it is their bounden duty to provide basic civic amenities, clean air and drinking water to citizens.
The Supreme Court had said that "right to life of human is being endangered" by the bad air quality and water pollution and the states have to deal with the situation as "life span is being shortened" due to this.
It said despite various orders being passed by the top court from time to time in the pollution matter, the situation has worsened over the years and authorities have to be blamed as they have not performed their duties.
It had termed the situation of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh "alarming" and said despite its prohibition order, burning of crop residues in these states have increased.
(With PTI inputs)