Here's your 10-point cheatsheet in this big story:
The order to shut schools and colleges in and around the capital until further notice and temporarily close six coal-fired power plants near Delhi came from the Environment Ministry's Commission of Air Quality Management after a meeting last evening.
Private offices were advised by the committee to allow at least 50 per cent of their employees to work-from-home until Sunday. While Delhi says all state government offices will follow 100 per cent work-from-home, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it does not favour work-from-home since Covid restrictions had a big impact in the past two years.
The government has instead asked all its employees in Delhi and its neighbourhood to use public transport as far as possible while going to offices.
The committee, banning trucks carrying non-essential goods and private construction in Delhi, said there was a "compelling" need to ensure the air quality did not deteriorate any further.
The Supreme Court today criticised the government because Delhi's neighbours had not been covered by the work-from-home directive and the focus was only on a temporary ban on trucks.
The Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, sharply said the bureaucracy had developed inertia and "wants everything to be done by court - water sprinkling, stopping fires".
As a Centre-Delhi blame game erupted over varying data on farm fires, the Chief Justice said: "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." Farmers should not be punished but should be asked to stop stubble-burning for a week, the Supreme Court said.
Justice Surya Kant said: "Irrespective of figures in affidavits, we have to consider the plight of the farmers...what compels him to burn the stubble? Nobody is concerned about that. People sleeping in five-star hotels in Delhi blame farmers. Look at such small landholdings. Can they afford the machines you all talk about?"
On Monday, the central government had told the court that farm fires have only 10 per cent share in the national capital's severe pollution, contradicting the Delhi Government, which places most of the blame on stubble burning.
As the Delhi Government and Centre urged the Supreme Court to decide on work-from-home and any lockdown, the Chief Justice said: "Two hours of our time was wasted. We had already asked you to take a call after joint meetings." Not passing any orders, the Supreme Court said last night's decisions of the Commission of Air Quality Management should be followed for now.
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