People cannot be left to die: SC on Delhi-NCR pollution


NEW DELHI: People in Delhi-NCR are losing “precious years of their lives” and cannot be “left to die” due to the “atrocious” pollution situation which reflects a “shocking state of affairs”, the Supreme Court said Monday and directed neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh to stop stubble burning.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta passed a slew of directions (See box) to curb alarming pollution levels in Delhi-NCR.
During the hearing, senior advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the top court as an amicus curiae in the pollution matter, told the bench that as per the recent affidavit filed by the Centre, stubble burning contributes to around 46 per cent pollution in Delhi-NCR.
The bench observed that it is shocking that every year, Delhi-NCR is choking due to severe pollution and “we are not able to do anything”.
“It cannot be done in a civilised country,” the bench said, adding, “If people do not respect rights of others, then they also have no rights. Right to life is the most important right”.
“No room is safe to live in Delhi. People are not safe even inside their house. It is atrocious,” the bench said. “The air quality index (AQI) level in bedrooms is above 500-600. This is the figure in Lutyens Delhi. Can we survive in this? This is not the way we can survive. People are losing precious years of their life in Delhi due to this,” it said.
The bench said it has no sympathy for farmers indulging in stubble-burning as they are putting lives of others at risk. It asked as to why there should be unabated stubble burning year after year in these areas and though a lot of hue and cry has been made over it, the states have not done anything to tackle the problem.
“You are asking people to die. Your states (Punjab and Haryana) are also badly affected. Is this the administration left in Punjab and Haryana? Every year this is happening. We will fasten the liability of states and panchayats also,” the bench said. “People are being advised not to come to Delhi. Who is responsible for this? The state governments are responsible. They are only interested in electioneering. They do not take any responsibility. We will not tolerate this,” it said.
Regarding pollution in Delhi-NCR due to dust on roads, the bench directed that water be sprinkled on roads having more dust and traffic plan be prepared so as to tackle pollution. (PTI)