"Debates On TV Causing More Pollution," Says Supreme Court: Highlights

Delhi Air Pollution Highlights: On Monday, the court had directed the Delhi government and central officials to hold an emergency meeting over the pollution and list out the steps that can be taken.

'Debates On TV Causing More Pollution,' Says Supreme Court: Highlights

Delhi Air Pollution Highlights: Delhi is battling toxic smog for days now. (File)

New Delhi:

The share of burning farm waste led to a fiery exchange in the Supreme Court on Wednesday as it resumed a hearing on the Delhi air pollution crisis after two days. While annual studies have pegged the contribution of stubble burning in neighbouring states between 4-10%, at the peak of Delhi's pollution season, this number has been found to be as high as nearly 50%. 

On Monday, the court had directed the Delhi government and central officials to hold an emergency meeting over the pollution and list out the steps that can be taken. The centre and states should consider work-from-home for their employees in and around Delhi, Supreme Court said.

Following the meeting, the Commission for Air Quality Management late Tuesday night said all schools and colleges in Delhi and nearby cities should be closed till further notice. Educational institutions will, therefore, likely return to online classes as held during the Covid lockdown.

A nine-page order issued by the CAQM also advised NCR state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) to allow at least 50 per cent of staff to work from home till November 21.

Private firms in Delhi NCR must also be "encouraged" to allow at least 50 per cent of their staff to work from home, the order by the CAQM (a subcommittee of the Central Pollution Control Board) said.

The government offices in the city have been directed and the private ones have been advised to let half of their staff work from home.

Here are the Highlights On Delhi Air Pollution:

Nov 17, 2021 13:43 (IST)
Just In| Delhi pollution: Work from home for Delhi govt employees extended till Sunday, says Environment Minister Gopal Rai. Vehicles, except those for essential services, from outside banned from entering city, he said.
Nov 17, 2021 13:42 (IST)
Nov 17, 2021 13:17 (IST)
"People In Delhi 5-Star Hotels Blame Farmers": Supreme Court On Pollution
The government must pursue farmers against stubble burning, the Supreme Court said today as it stressed that it does not want to punish them while Delhi and neighbouring cities see an escalating air quality crisis. Read more

Nov 17, 2021 12:19 (IST)
Next hearing is on November 23

NV Ramana has not passed an order today. But has said that committee orders should be complied with.
Nov 17, 2021 12:18 (IST)
CJI NV Ramana: We will consider the rest of the things on Monday. We can wait till then.

But other things that Mr Vikas Singh said industrial pollution etc is a problem throughout the year

Can there not be compulsory directions in Delhi regarding that?

SG Tushar Mehta: There are harsh steps already on thermal power plants etc

Vikas Singh may give his suggestions to us. We will consider.

CJI NV Ramana: Govt of India...their offices...what is the extent to which you can cut down vehicles

SG Tushar Mehta: Delhi Govt has cut down on its vehicles

CJI NV Ramana: You do not need 100% employees. You restricted lower level officials...their numbers during Covid. That can be done?

Justice Surya Kant: There are certain localities where a lot of class 3 and 4 employees live. At least from there they can come in public transport

SG Tushar Mehta: It will have limited impact on pollution. But WFH for Central Govt employees in Delhi will have pan India ramifications. 100 less vehicles on the road does less to reduce pollution but causes pan India ramifications for us. But for officers can use 1 car

Justice Surya Kant: Office timings are fixed. There are residential complexes where batches of govt employees live. Initiate car pooling there

SG Tushar Mehta: We can look into the option of common drop and pickup buses for govt employees

CJI NV Ramana: Not passing order today. Matter will be taken up next Tuesday. All committee directions should be complied with

CJI NV Ramana: Govt of India over a period of time I have observed that the bureaucracy has developed an inertia. They want everything to be done by court- water sprinkling, stopping fires etc. Unfortunate on the part of the Executive

CJI NV Ramana: 2 hours of our time was wasted. We had already asked you to take a call after joint meetings.
Nov 17, 2021 12:07 (IST)
UP Govt lawyer: They can't say that measures should be taken by all states. Pollution is from other states not UP

Justice Surya Kant: So you are saying UP has nothing to do with pollution?

SG Tushar Mehta: In yesterday's meeting MET department was also consulted. Our measures are till Nov 21 because after that air quality expected to improve. We would suggest that the Court waits till Nov 21 before taking harsh steps.

Justice Surya Kant: You are saying you will encourage people to reduce the number of vehicles that are plying. How do you encourage them? They will follow?

CJI NV Ramana: Delhi is saying do it in whole NCR not just on them

SG Tushar Mehta: That is their problem. Its not you vs me here

CJI NV Ramana: We expected that the committee should have taken a call on what is to be closed
Nov 17, 2021 11:59 (IST)
Vikas Singh for petitioner: We are not into farmer bashing. They do have a small window before sowing next crop. But stubble burning is a serious problem and it needs to be addressed. Burning is harmful for the soil too. We might have to close down everything for two months. Delhi is unlivable during these months. Pass orders today regarding next year. Compensate farmers for stubble

Nov 17, 2021 11:55 (IST)
Vikas Singh for petitioner: Starts reading out from his plea on the Supreme Court directions that are needed for controlling pollution from stubble, industries, vehicles etc. SG said that I have an agenda. I don't have any agenda. Those are the only requests we are making.

Vikas Singh for petitioner: Vehicles that do not comply with emission norms. They should be cracked upon. Even things which require smaller efforts from Delhi Govt. That is not being done.

Vikas Singh for petitioner: It is an endemic problem. Supreme Court asks Govt. Govts say we will do this and that but nothing happens

Vikas Singh for petitioner: Its wrongly reported that stubble contributes only 10%. It could be up to 50% during current season. Please pass directions today itself for next year.

Vikas Singh for petitioner: PUSA Institute method decomposes the stubble in 15 days. That is easier than expensive machines that farmers can't afford.

Vikas Singh for petitioner: People in Delhi are gasping. Despite taking several medicines I am finding it difficult
Nov 17, 2021 11:46 (IST)
Justice Surya Kant: Farmers have a small window before sowing the next crop. What does he do with the stubble?

Punjab Govt: We are helping with machines

Supreme Court bench questions the figures and further logistics of stubble management and how state govt will help
Nov 17, 2021 11:45 (IST)
Haryana Govt: We had done in some districts. We will implement across the whole area

Punjab Govt: State of Punjab does not come under NCR

CJI NV Ramana: So you did nothing?

Punjab Govt: No we have also taken steps to control pollution. Both long term and short term.

Punjab Govt: we have tried to sensitise farmers to not burn stubble for at least 2 weeks

Justice Surya Kant: What happened to those fields where you stopped stubble burning?

Punjab Govt: its still in the fields

Justice Surya Kant: So you left farmers to the mercy of God? You prevented farmers from burning stubble but did nothing to help them in managing it?
Nov 17, 2021 11:41 (IST)
Supreme Court bench to Haryana Govt lawyer: What have you done so far?

Haryana Govt: All directions (issued by CAQM) we will follow

CJI NV Ramana to Haryana Govt: Have you made any efforts to control stubble burning?

Haryana govt: Our top officials are inspecting and requesting farmers We are also taking steps on WFH

Justice Surya Kant: Has WFH been implemented?
Nov 17, 2021 11:39 (IST)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: We can't buy buses immediately but can increase frequency of metro and buses

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: But NCR should also control their number of vehicles

SG Tushar Mehta: We have suggested already to Delhi govt yesterday regarding public transport

CJI NV Ramana: Yes but issue is about NCR too

SG Tushar Mehta: We have also given directions for road sprinklers
Nov 17, 2021 11:36 (IST)
Justice DY Chandrachud: We have one suggestion. You have said that its possible to close down non-essential industries. But only when others in NCR also do it.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: It has to be holistic approach. We have switched to WFH, but what is the point if vehicles coming from elsewhere

Justice DY Chandrachud: Can you not increase CNG buses. So that people switch to those instead of private vehicles. Hire more such buses

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Can check on that even if it can be implemented in the medium term. Might not be possible immediately

Justice DY Chandrachud: Take positive steps in next 2 days. For short term impact
Nov 17, 2021 11:31 (IST)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: MCD has to tell how many more needed. We are ready to give full financial support

Justice DY Chandrachud: Again putting it on MCD

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Purchase order placed for 15 more

CJI NV Ramana: Again the issue that MCD is not under you

Abhishek Manu Singhvi for Delhi Govt: I can't run the issue of sweeping. That is run by MCD

CJI NV Ramana: Enough is enough. We are not going into any figures now. How many machines required etc
Nov 17, 2021 11:28 (IST)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Our affidavit on 13 November states our measures on construction and road dust measures

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: The affidavit that SG has filed...90% of those steps have been taken by Delhi Govt. Other states are little behind and they will catch up

Justice DY Chandrachud: We had mentioned last time the issue of only 69 mechanised road sweeping machines...any new purchase
Nov 17, 2021 11:26 (IST)
CJI NV Ramana: You keep quoting PUSA research study but there are already reports saying that method to manage stubble is a failure

Justice DY Chandrachud to Delhi Government: What have you already done and what do you propose to do?

Nov 17, 2021 11:21 (IST)
Justice Surya Kant: Irrespective of figures in affidavits the plight of the farmers...what compels him to burn stubble...nobody is concerned abt that. People sleeping in five star hotels in Delhi blame farmers. Look at such small land holdings of farmers. Can they afford the machines you all talk about?

CJI reading out from his phone now:
A reasearch paper by IIT says that only certain percentage contributes to stubble burning pollution

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: That must be old study. We are conducting an ongoing study

CJI NV Ramana: You banned firecrackers. But can you deny that in last 5-6 days so many firecrackers have been burst. What about those sources of pollution?

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: I don't deny that firecrackers cause pollution

Justice Surya Kant: Every year in October and November Supreme Court is compelled to take steps when Delhi starts choking
Nov 17, 2021 11:18 (IST)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Forget the politics or month it is our duty to tell you that stubble burning is a cause

CJI NV Ramana: You all saying different figures. We do not want to penalise the farmers. We already asked Centre to pursue and request those farmers to not burn stubble at least for a week

CJI NV Ramana: If you keep raising these other things like that then main issue will not get resolved

CJI NV Ramana: Debates on TV are causing more pollution than any other sources. Everyone has their own agenda there. We are trying to work out a solution here

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: These figures would be higher in November so they should not be ignored. Source based pollution study is yet to be completed. Delhi Government has commissioned it and its being done by IIT

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: We are not here to blame farmers either
Nov 17, 2021 11:14 (IST)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi for Delhi Government

SAFAR study on stubble burning...is about to quote figures when CJI intervenes

CJI NV Ramana: If you see today's newspaper each paper has its own statistics

Abhishek Manu Singhvi: It varies from 0 to 58% based on which month we are talking abt. SG may have taken a 4 month or 6 month average

CJI NV Ramana: Our focus is to reduce pollution. You are all raising an issue repeatedly that is not relevant.
Nov 17, 2021 11:11 (IST)
CJI NV Ramana: Do you have number of Central govt employees?

SG Tushar Mehta: Don't have exact number. But it would be negligible. It would be lesser than other vehicles. Any order here will have all India ramifications.
Nov 17, 2021 11:09 (IST)
CJI NV Ramana: All adjoining states like Punjab, Haryana and UP are also under these measures?

SG Tushar Mehta: Yes

SG Tushar Mehta: On WFH for Central govt employees we have said that work has already suffered due to Covid. Central govt vehicles number in Delhi-NCR is not too high. There are more cons than pros when it comes to WFH. WFH will have limited impact. We have advised car pooling.

Nov 17, 2021 11:03 (IST)
Vikas Singh for petitioner: SG Tushar Mehta did tell the Court orally that it was 10%. So I told court that instead its 35-40%.

SG Tushar Mehta: Chief Secretaries of all states had a meeting. We have decided:
  • To take steps on industries that run on unapproved fuels
  • Effective enforcement measures shall be taken
Nov 17, 2021 11:00 (IST)
CJI NV Ramana: These figures are not important for us. Unless the parties in the case are trying to divert the issue. We are concerned with lowering pollution.

CJI NV Ramana: Its a matter of common sense

SG Tushar Mehta: But there are those who are not using common sense
Nov 17, 2021 10:59 (IST)
SG Tushar Mehta explains contribution of stubble burning:

  • We had said in our affidavit that some factors like stubble burning contribute more after Oct to pollution. Its not throughout the year.
  • We then stated that it increases in those two months. And its about 35-40%.
  • But it was projected that we said that the contribution is only 4-7%  because of Punjab elections
Nov 17, 2021 10:54 (IST)
SG Tushar Mehta: We heard some nasty utterances on TV media about me that I misled the court by saying stubble is only contributing 4-7%

Justice DY Chandrachud: When I said 4% Mr Vikas Singh did point out that it was 35%-40%

CJI NV Ramana: When you hold public office you are bound to get such criticism. When conscious is clear there is no issue. Forget it.
Nov 17, 2021 10:52 (IST)
Hearing on Delhi-NCR pollution begins
Nov 17, 2021 10:17 (IST)
Punjab Government files its response in Supreme Court, says need financial assistance from Centre on stubble burning

Punjab says:
  • Taking all possible steps to control stubble burning but facing financial limitations
  • Need financial assistance from Centre to control stubble burning
  • Have been asking the Centre to provide cost compensation of ₹100/quintal to the farmers over & above MSP to control Stubble Burning but to no avail
Nov 17, 2021 10:07 (IST)
Centre not in favour of WFH for its employees, files affidavit in Supreme Court.

Centre says:
  • Work already affected earlier due to Covid
  • Work from home will not be of much benefit and effect
  • Centre says it has issued an advisory to its employees on car-pooling

Nov 17, 2021 10:06 (IST)
Just In| Not in favour of work-from-home for employees, won't be of much benefit, centre tells Supreme Court
Nov 17, 2021 09:44 (IST)
Delhi Shuts Schools Till Further Notice As City Gasps For Air. Read Full Order
All educational institutions in Delhi and neighbouring cities have been closed till further notice, according to a directive by the Commission for Air Quality Management for the national capital which was issued late Tuesday night. The order comes as the city is battling toxic smog for days now. Read more

Delhi Shuts Schools Till Further Notice As City Gasps For Air. Read Full Order
Nov 17, 2021 09:43 (IST)
  • All schools and colleges in Delhi and nearby cities should be closed till further notice, the Commission for Air Quality Management said late Tuesday night. The direction - one of many - comes as the national capital region as it battles a toxic smog that has blanketed the city since Diwali.
  • Educational institutions will, therefore, likely return to online classes as held during the Covid lockdown.
  • A nine-page order issued by the CAQM also advised NCR state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) to allow at least 50 per cent of staff to work from home till November 21.
  • Private firms in Delhi NCR must also be "encouraged" to allow at least 50 per cent of their staff to work from home, the order by the CAQM (a subcommittee of the Central Pollution Control Board) said.
  • Apart from WFH instructions and the closure of presential classes for schools and colleges, the order also calls for "heavy penalty on persons/organisations responsible for stacking construction materials... or waste on roads in NCR" and "augment availability of road-sweeping machines in NCR".
  • Construction activities and demolition projects across Delhi NCR have been stopped till November 21 as well, with exceptions made for railway services/stations, Metro operations, airports and bus terminals, as well as national security or defence-related activities and projects.
  • Importantly, only five of 11 thermal power plants in Delhi NCR will be operative.