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To avoid diesel generators, SC wants states to ensure full power supply

The Bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta took up the issue of air pollution in the capital and other parts of north India

diesel generators, India
(Photo courtesy: Cummins Commentary)

While people in the national capital and across North India continue to gasp for breathe, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to ensure no power cuts should take place so that no diesel generators are used.

The Bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta took up the issue of air pollution in the capital and other parts of north India.

"No power cuts should take place in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to ensure that no diesel generators are used," the bench observed.

A high-powered committee of states will meet today and will submit the report on November 6.

With the national capital facing severe air pollution, the Supreme Court asked the Delhi government about the "logic" behind the odd-even scheme and ordered it produce data to prove that the road rationing plan reduces pollution.

The apex court ruled that persons found violating the ban on construction and demolition in the Delhi-NCR region will be fined Rs 1 lakh and with Rs 5,000 for burning garbage. It also directed municipal bodies to prevent open dumping of garbage.

"Cars create less pollution. What are you (Delhi) getting from this odd-even? What is the logic behind the odd-even scheme? Banning diesel vehicles we can understand, but what is the point of odd-even scheme," Justice Arun Mishra said.

The bench has sought the data or records from the Delhi Government by Friday to prove that the odd-even scheme has reduced pollution in Delhi, even as autos/taxis and two-wheelers continue to ply on the roads.

The next date of hearing in the case is November 6.

The odd-even scheme, which entails cars with even last digits to run on even days and with odd last digits to run on odd days of the month, will be in force from November 4 until November 15.

The Bench also directed the Central government and the Delhi Government to take steps with the help of the experts.

"It is not the way we can live. Centre should do, states should do, it can't go on. This is too much. No room is safe to live in this city, even in homes. We are losing precious years of our lives due to this," it said.

The apex court also summoned chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to appear before it on stubble burning and pollution issue.

"Delhi is choking every year and we are not able to do anything. Every year, this is happening and this continues for 10-15 days, this does not happen in civilized countries. Right to life is most important. Things are happening every year under our nose. People are being advised to not come to Delhi, or leave Delhi. State governments are responsible," the bench said.

The court said it will monitor the matter related to air pollution.

"People dying in their state and neighbouring states. Will not tolerate this. We are making a mockery of everything. This is a gross violation of fundamental right to life. We will supervise this matter now. Crop stubble burning must stop immediately and all states must do everything to stop it," the Supreme Court said.

Justice Mishra said that gram pradhans, local officials, police who do not control burning should be removed from their posts.

Justice Arun Mishra further remarked that people were not safe inside their own homes and it was unacceptable in a civilised country and asked what measures were being taken by the government.

Describing the situation as 'grim', the apex court also asked the Centre and Delhi government to inform them what they intend to do to reduce the pollution.

"Situation is grim, what you intend to do as Centre and as the Delhi government to reduce this pollution," Supreme Court asked.

Speaking on the situation in the national capital, the court stated the situation is....getting repeated every year and it is not tolerable.

Air quality in Delhi other parts of North India dipped to "severe" after Diwali and a thick blanket of smog can be seen in these areas.

In the wake of the current situation, the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has declared a public health emergency.