Delhi Smog- Courts step in, ask the government to take emergency measures

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court and the National Green Tribunal have directed the Centre and multiple state governments to take emergency short-term measures to solve smog problem.

The directions include watering Delhi streets to minimise dust, sprinkling of water in areas where PM-2.5 concentration crossed 600 micrograms per cubic metre, prolonged ban on all construction activities, restricting the entry of trucks besides stopping diesel-driven trucks which are over 10 years old.

The Delhi High Court bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the Union Environment Secretary to hold an emergency meeting with the chief secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh within the next three days to work out a short-term plan to reduce air pollution.

Both courts suggested the governments to consider "cloud seeding" as an option to induce artificial rain that would settle down the dust in the air.

Furthermore, the NGT asked Delhi government to stop polluting industrial activities for the next five days and a complete halt on construction activities.

No construction activity will be carried out on structures until further orders. All industrial activities in Delhi-NCR that are causing emissions will not be allowed to carry on their functioning till November 14, said a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.

The Delhi government has already banned entry of all trucks with the exception of those carrying essential commodities. In addition, it ordered a stop to all civil construction.

The green tribunal told the authorities that holding meetings, writing letters and shifting responsibility from one to the other for non-performance can hardly be an excuse for meeting "such a bad environmental emergency".

"You (officials) go to the hospital and see what kind of trouble people are facing. You kept playing with people's life. Right to life has been infringed with impunity by the authorities and other stakeholders who have been mere spectators to such crisis," the bench said.

The two courts came down heavily on the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana for allowing the crisis to precipitate with little action on the ground to address the recurring problem of air pollution at the beginning of the winter.

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