A special bench of the Supreme Court will continue hearing a plea by 17-year-old Delhi student Aditya Dubey concerning rising levels of air pollution in the Capital.
On Saturday, the Top Court had expressed grave concerns about the dire situation caused by deteriorating air quality in Delhi saying that the situation is bad that judges are forced to wear masks at home.
Today, the Solicitor General is expected to get back to the Court with the outcome of the meeting of the chief secretaries of the four States and emergent measures which would be implemented to contain the rising pollution.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant will hear the plea.
Live updates from the hearing below.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh: I appear for the petitioner. As for as stubble burning, there is a order in Punjab that cases are not being reported so that they are not unpopular during election season. That's why Justice MB Lokur committee was appointed.
Solicitor General Mehta: He has a different agenda here.
Sr. Adv. Singh: I am from the petitioner.
CJI NV Ramana: Do you want a hearing or you both want to fight?
Sr. Adv. Singh: There are farm fires in Punjab.
CJI NV Ramana: We are not into elections and politics.
Sr. Adv. Singh: Delhi government has asked stubbles to be taken care of stubbles biologically..
CJI Ramana: Let us hear and read papers first. Mr. Mehta please tell us the suggestions.
Sr. Adv. Singh: I want to flag some issues. Construction has to be regulated and not banned.
Justice Surya Kant: This is your suggestion or Delhi govt's suggestions?
Singh: I am making a consolidated suggestion after going through all replies. Farm fires are not being looked at for political considerations...
Justice Chandrachud: We are in a crisis situation and we cannot go into new measures. We cannot start conjuring up a new image. UOI has prepared a detailed reply and now we should work to strengthen the same, comprehensive steps have been taken obviously results are needed.
Singh: Their reply has done nothing but form committees. It has to be done on war footing.
CJI: before passing orders, tell us.
SG: Delhi govt has taken some steps in right earnest
CJI: You said you are holding emergency meeting what happened?
SG: Meeting wrapped up late and we sent it late. Please come to page 39 of that affidavit. Every situation in every state will be different.
SG reads Delhi govt suggestions: They have suggested shutting down Badarpur plant but we have suggested not shutting down but increase natural gas.
Also increase bus ticket fare by three times so that people who don't want to travel does not have to
SG: If the PM levels are very poor, there can be stop use of diesel generating sets. Enhance parking fees by three to four times. Increase metro schedules. RWA and house owners to provide security metres to prevent open burning.
SG: For moderate to poor PM levels, there can be enforcements of stopping garbage burning and also enforce pollution control in thermal power plant
SG: Now we have come to the conclusion that stubble burning IS NOT THE MAJOR CAUSE of pollution and now it contributes to only 10% to the Delhi Air Pollution.
SG: Road dust naturally contributes to the pollution. Ensure that all brick kilns remain closed in Delhi NCR. Ensure closure of all hot mix plant. Reduce operation of coal-based power plant in NCR. Badarpur power plant has already been shut down.
SG: Dust control measures be taken at the construction site. We have suggested that diesel generating sets be stopped using unless needed like in hospitals. Advise people with respiratory issues to avoid venturing out. Fines for ones indulging in garbage burning
Justice Kant: CJI had said the situation is emergent. Now suggestions that we see are only long term. how many mechanised road cleaning machines are available in Delhi?
SG: We are not averse to any drastic measures
SC: What are the scientifically proven drastic measures?
SG: The 3 drastic steps to control Air Pollution in Delhi:
1: One is introduction of odd even scheme that govt can implement
2. Truck entry ban in delhi
3. Severest will be lockdown
These 3 steps are not taken yet
SG: See which factors contribute majorly:
Justice Kant: Are you agreeing in principle that stubble burning is not the major cause and hue and cry has no scientific basis? Why not apply ban on entry of all vehicles to and fro delhi?
Justice Chandrachud: As per your affidavit ..75 percent of the pollution according to scientific study is due to industries, transport and dust. Thus, it's not stubble burning. These 3 factors have to be reduced.
Justice Chandrachud: Today is 15th, tell us by 17th what concrete measures can be taken to reduce pollution in these three quarters?
SG: please see the chart in this context.
SG: I had only said that for 2 months stubble burning contributes.
CJI: Without these meetings and before last hearing, we had said stubble burning is not the main issue and it's the city related issues like dust and transport. When levels reduce then we can look at long term.
SG: Delhi govt has done its best and likewise even Haryana has done its best. Some of the measures taken to curb road dust management is that more than 8500 of km was swept with mechanised machines
SC: You have 69 machines.. how many you need?
Justice Kant: Delhi govt affidavit is all about bashing farmers and how the entire cause is stubble burning
DYC J: We are targeting an insignificant source of pollution here
Singh: If you look at the Centre's affidavit, it shows how stubble and paddy burning has increased in Punjab and Haryana, it says efforts need to be taken to curb this level of stubble burning
CJI: You want farmers to be blamed or what?
CJI:Delhi state counsel, what are the steps ?
CJI: tell us about road cleaning etc (To Adv Rahul Mehra for Delhi counsel)
DYC J: How can you augment the number of road cleaning machines?
Mehra reads the below portion of affidavit
CJI: Is your 69 machines enough?
Mehra: The municipal commissioner, Mayor etc can place a targeted affidavit
CJI: This is a story my grandmother used to tell me how fish was not hurt. Again, you are passing the buck to the municipal commissioner
Justice Surya Kant to Delhi Govt: This kind of lame excuses will force us to hold an audit of the revenue you are earning and spend on popularity slogans.
DYC J: Please tell us how will you augment the machines .. no one is against you
Mehra: Can i take instructions from the special secretary and come back to you?
Justice Kant: The municipal corporation has said that it has no money to pay even salaries to the workers
CJI: Who is for haryana?
SG: the issue is..
CJI: You are for Haryana...
CJI: So haryana does not know who will appear now.
CJI: This is not the way we expected an executive emergency meeting will be held.
Construction, power, transport, dust and stubble burning are the issues. Ask the committee created and decide how to implement the action plan by tomorrow evening.
CJI: Please decide which industries can be stopped, which vehicles can be prevented from plying and which power plants can be stopped and how you can provide alternative power by then. You have to come back tomorrow evening and apprise us
CJI: We are comfortable to have a hearing even tomorrow evening after 4 or 5 pm
SG: Understood. Delhi pollution has reduced a bit from Saturday till today
CJI: Apart of stubble burning, UP Haryana and Punjab can pursue the farmers to at least stop the burning for a week
Justice Kant to Punjab: You have said that you are penalising the farmers who are burning stubble. But what about the incentives. What about the points on that ? How they will be given an alternative
Adv Deepinder Patwalia: We have prepared a convenience note for perusal
CJI: Sorry to say, our lawyer friends file documents after documents and nothing happens and leads to deforestation in this way. If you don't set it right, we have to set a meeting agenda.
SG: Taking from Justice Chandrachud's comment yesterday, if states can give details of total acreage from paddy
Punjab and Delhi says figures have been provide
Mehra: i got info that 69 machines are there. As municipal commission tells us, we will provide machines and we will work on war footing
CJI: Whatever is required is tall words !
Mehra: We have indicated under various heads as to what steps we have taken in Delhi. UOI steps for other states all those states have been taken in Delhi.. all schools and colleges have closed
CJI: SG has said you are cooperating, why are you arguing?
Mehra: We are apprising you on what all we are and can do in next 48 hours. All construction activities are banned..
CJI: There are other areas also... constructions also going in other states. Delhi does not mean only NCR other parts are also in Delhi
Rahul Mehra: We can have a lockdown also but since we don't have air boundaries central government can consider having it in entire NCR and lockdown has to be imposed as whole
CJI: That's why meeting will have chief secretaries from other states also. We only want pollution to go down
CJI: We are not here to advise you on what to do. Report to us about the decision taken.
CJI: Heard counsels at length, we come to a conclusion that major culprits of air pollution is transport, industries, vehicular traffic apart from stubble burning in some areas.
CJI: The Commission under the act has not indicated what steps will be taken to control the pollution-causing elements.
We direct centre to have an emergency meeting tomorrow and take into account points cited by us.
CJI: Broadly all affidavits indicate that stubble burning does not cause much pollution but even then good amount is taking place in haryana and punjab. We request state govts to pursue the farmers to stop the burning for a week
CJI: We direct the Centre and States of NCR region to impose work from home for the meantime. Chief secretaries of Punjab, UP, Haryana have to be present for the meeting. List this day after tomorrow.