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SC to hear petitions on rising air pollution in Delhi-NCR

A special bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta will hear the suo motu case filed by the top court itself in connection with the situation in Delhi-NCR.

SC to hear petitions on rising air pollution in Delhi-NCR

NEW DELHI: As air pollution continues to remain at an alarming level in Delhi and the National Capital Region, the Supreme Court will on Wednesday take up a suo motu case entitled, 'alarming rise in air pollution in Delhi and adjoining areas', for hearing along with other pending matters on the same.

A special bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta will hear the suo motu case filed by the top court itself in connection with the situation in Delhi-NCR.

The top court summoned Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev and his counterparts from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in this connection. The court said authorities cannot allow a mass exodus of people afraid about severe pollution cutting down their life span.

Ahead of the hearing in the case, the Centre on Tuesday said stubble burning was going on in Haryana and Punjab despite the Supreme Court’s strictures against it. Crop burning has caused air pollution levels in the Delhi-National Capital Region to shoot up since last week.

The two states have been directed to deploy more monitoring teams to ensure that violators are penalised, the government said after a review meeting chaired by the Union cabinet secretary. There was a need for more “focussed” action to combat pollution, the government added.

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According to the Centre, different agencies have been coordinating efforts to combat air pollution in Delhi but pointed to a need for enhanced efforts to control the situation. Punjab and Haryana have also been asked to ensure they are fully prepared to meet any emergency.

The air quality in Delhi-NCR on Tuesday continued to hover between "severe" and "very poor" category.

In a separate pollution-related matter, the top court had on Monday termed as "atrocious" the severe air pollution in Delhi-NCR and banned all construction and demolition activities, along with burning of garbage and waste, in the region.

The apex court had observed that people could not be "left to die" due to the "worse-than-emergency situation" and said that those carrying out construction and demolition activities, despite its order, would be fined Rs 1 lakh.

It added that a penalty of Rs 5,000 would be imposed if anyone was found burning garbage and waste in the region.

The top court said in case of any violation, the local administration and zonal officers would be held responsible.