Delhi-NCR has been reeling under severe smog for the last few days (File)
The Supreme Court today said a "comprehensive" plan was needed to deal with the problem of severe air pollution in Delhi-NCR and asked the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to look at long-term measures. When the top court-appointed EPCA referred to its recent report on air pollution crisis in Delhi-National Capital Region, the top court said it was a "reactive report" and there was a need to have a comprehensive plan to tackle the issue.
"There is a problem. It's a reactive report. Sometimes when there is an emergency, people can react. You (EPCA) also need to look at some long-term or short-term measures. Some comprehensive plan is needed," a bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.
The bench said the comprehensive plan should be made not only based on pollution level in Delhi-NCR but should focus on the entire country.
"It must not be based for Delhi only. Reports say cities like Patna and Raipur are more polluted," the bench said.
EPCA's counsel told the court that the comprehensive plan would cover the entire country and it would be a model plan for states other than Delhi. The authority also said they have given suggestions on the issue of pollution and were working on several other measures.
The Supreme Court made it clear that its order banning use of pet coke and furnace oil by industries from November 1 in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan was applicable to the three states entirely and not limited to the areas falling under the NCR.
Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni, appearing for the centre, told the bench that the government supported the top court's order banning use of pet coke and furnace oil from November 1 in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
"We are supporting the ban on use of pet coke and furnace oil for at least three months," he said, adding that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was already looking into these aspects.
To this, the bench asked, "What about the impact of (air pollution) on health of people?" Responding to this, Mr Nadkarni said citizens have a right to live life with good health.
During the hearing, an advocate, appointed as an amicus curiae or friend of the court in the matter, said nothing has been done by the centre to tackle air pollution. "What are they (centre) talking about? Are they aware of what is happening to the people of Delhi-NCR?" the counsel said, adding it was "shameful" that a US-based airline has cancelled flights to Delhi due to pollution.
The bench said not only one measure, but a series of measures have to be taken to deal with the issue of air pollution.
The court also heard arguments on behalf of industries which use pet coke and furnace oil, seeking relaxation from the ban.
The bench said the matter of ban on use of pet coke and furnace oil was an issue which was separate from fixing of emission standards for industries using them.
Delhi-NCR has been reeling under severe smog for the last few days, with doctors warning people to stay indoors.