Air Pollution: “Life not cheap”, Supreme Court asks States why no liability should be imposed on them

Air Pollution: “Life not cheap”, Supreme Court asks States why no liability should be imposed on them

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today issued notice to all States and Union Territories seeking their response on why no liability should be imposed on them for failing to provide clean air and water. The order was passed after the Special Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta heard the case relating to the acute problem of air pollution in Delhi and North India.

In a hearing that lasted over two hours, the Court pulled up the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana for failing to curtail stubble burning in the states despite the Court’s order prohibiting the same.

Read: [Breaking] Air Pollution: Supreme Court passes directions to curb Stubble Burning

The Court, unhappy with the present situation, asked why these states had failed to control the situation. A visibly miffed Justice Mishra used said,

Why are Delhiites forced to live in gas chambers? It’s better to get explosives in bags and kill them in one go! Why are people made go suffer like this?”

It stated that there needs to be liability fastened for reduced life span of the citizens on account of failure of the governments. It was further observed that tort law was advanced in other countries, compared to India.

Life is not supposed to be so cheap. The compensation that was given to victims of Bhopal gas tragedy is much less than what would be given in other countries.

The Court has sought the response from the states and the union territories within six weeks.

The Special Bench had taken up the issue of air pollution in North India, and specifically the hazardous situation in Delhi earlier this month. It had pulled up the Centre and the Delhi government for their inaction on the air pollution choking the national capital and surrounding areas.

The air quality index in Delhi and other parts of Northern India this month had crossed hazardous and toxic levels, the Court had noted. It further observed that “no room in Delhi is safe”. Despite installing air purifiers, the PM 2.5 levels were at 500 and 600, indicating a grim situation, the Bench said.

The Court had also imposed a complete ban on stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana as well as the adjacent areas in Western Uttar Pradesh.

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