Every day eight people on an average are dying in Delhi due to air pollution-related diseases, the Supreme Court today said even as it directed the Centre to consider banning the use of fuels high in sulphur content-- furnace oil and pet coke -- by industries in NCR.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and P C Pant quoted a study of a Boston-based institute which said that every year around 3000 people die in Delhi due to air pollution-related diseases.
"A 2010 study of the Boston-based institute on health effects estimates that at least 3000 pre-mature deaths take place annually in Delhi due to air pollution-related diseases.
"The World Allergy Organisation's journal published a report in 2013 on the high respiratory disorder symptoms which says that students living in Chandni Chowk in north delhi have 66 per cent such symptoms, west Delhi's Mayapuri (59 per cent) and south Delhi's Sarojini Nagar (46 per cent).
"Heavy traffic movement has been found to be the factor responsible for the relative difference between the localities," the bench said while quoting the report in the order.
Refusing to grant eight weeks' time to the Centre to talk to all stake holders using sulphur-heavy fuels, the bench said that eight weeks' time is too long and granted four weeks.
"One has to think are we doing the right thing. Eight people (on an average) are dying in Delhi due to air pollution," the bench told Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar.
The SG said that the Centre favours a ban on sulphur-heavy fuels used by industries in the National Capital Region (NCR) but "are we doing the right thing if we do not give enough time to the industry to switch over to alternative fuel".
The Centre told the court that there is hardly any alternative fuel which can be used by the industries which was refuted by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), a statutory body.
"There is alternative fuel and industries can use natural gas or electricity. Although electricity can be a problem in the NCR region but natural gas can be a feasible option," the counsel for EPCA said.
The bench also granted its nod to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to withdraw Rs 2.50 crore from Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) fund created on the direction of the apex court.