NEW DELHI: The “emergency”-like smog scenario in the national capital and the government’s failure to have a contingency plan to deal with it on Thursday evoked sharp reactions from the courts which castigated it by making remarks like the authorities were “waiting for people to die” without showing the least concern for health of citizens, leading to a “genocide”-like situation. The Delhi High Court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Supreme Court slammed the inaction of the Centre and four northern states to deal with poor air quality in the city which has left the people “gasping for breath”.
After the first news came from the High Court that the alarming pollution level was literally a ‘capital punishment’ for Delhiites, robbing three years of their lives, the action shifted to the NGT which asked why should the people be exposed to such severe air pollution. While the High Court passed limited directions by asking the Chief Secretary of Punjab to explain why its directions to prevent stubble burning were not being complied with, the NGT ordered setting up of centralised and state-level monitoring committees.
However, the stinging remarks came from the SC which pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for its “sluggish” response by making it clear that it cannot “allow things to go out of hands”. “Do you want to wait till people start dying ... people are gasping for breath,” a fuming Supreme Court asked the CPCB. The apex court also passed a slew of directions for the Centre to come out with a comprehensive plan to deal with the graded level of worsening air quality.
The top court said the CPCB, in consultation with the government, will also prepare a detailed plan specifying what measures have to be taken and which authority will be responsible for implementing those recommendations in a time-bound manner. The court also passed a slew of directions including a meeting of all stakeholders with CPCB chairman to be held on November 19.