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Delhi Pollution : Supreme Court Asks Air Quality Commission To Decide On Lifting Construction Ban, Relaxing Industrial Restrictions

Srishti Ojha
10 Dec 2021 6:50 AM GMT
Delhi Pollution : Supreme Court Asks Air Quality Commission To Decide On  Lifting Construction Ban, Relaxing Industrial Restrictions
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The Supreme Court on Friday granted liberty to the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Regions to take a decision on the lifting the ban on construction activities, and restrictions on industrial activities, within a week."We direct Commission to examine requests of various industries & organisations about relaxation of conditions imposed by virtue of our orders...

The Supreme Court on Friday granted liberty to the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Regions to take a decision on the lifting the ban on construction activities, and restrictions on industrial activities, within a week.

"We direct Commission to examine requests of various industries & organisations about relaxation of conditions imposed by virtue of our orders or otherwise as per their circulars. We expect the commission will look into this in a weeks time", the Court ordered.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant accordingly disposed of the intervention applications filed by builders forum, operators of sugar, rice and paper mills etc., taking note of the slight improvement in Delhi's air quality.

The Court has however retained an application related to the payment of minimum wages to workers during the period of construction ban. The Court has directed the States of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to file affidavits showing compliance with the order directing payment of minimum wages to labourers during the period of construction ban.


The bench heard Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh(for the petitioner Aditya Dubey), Senior Advocate Dr AM Singhvi(for Delhi Government), Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar (for State of UP) and Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, CA Sundaram, Sandeep Sethi and Pinaki Mishra on behalf of various intervenors.

Advocate Shyel Trehan, appearing for an intervnor organization, highlighted the issue of non-payment of wages to labourers.

On the last occasion (3rd December 2021) the Supreme Court had taken note of the decisions taken by the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and directed the Central Government and the Delhi Government to implement the same in order to tackle the air pollution in the national capital.

The Commission had taken several decisions a day before the hearing following the strong critical remarks by the Supreme Court regarding the non-implementation of the directions issued to control air pollution.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta had taken the Court through the decisions taken by the Commission, which include the constitution of an "Emergency Task Force" and "Flying Squads" to take action against defaulting entities. The Commission also decided to restrict the functioning of those industries, which are not using PNG or cleaner fuels, by 8 hours on weekends and to close them on weekends.

The Court also took into account the affidavit filed by the Delhi Government which mentioned the decision taken by it to close the physical functioning of schools until further order.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant was hearing the writ petition Aditya Dubey versus Union of India filed through Advocate Nikhil Jain, seeking emergency steps to control the worsening air quality situation in the national capital.

On November 24, taking note of the air quality crisis in the national capital, the Supreme Court had re-imposed the ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR until further orders. The Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi-NCR had earlier decided to lift the ban with effect from November 22, taking note of the slight improvement in the air quality.

The Court however permitted non-polluting works related to construction such as carpentry, electrical work, plumbing and interior decoration to continue. The Court also directed the States to use the funds which have been collected as labour cess for the welfare of construction workers to provide them subsistence for the period during which construction activities are prohibited and pay wages notified under the Minimum Wages Act for the respective categories of workers.

Taking up the case in November second week when the air quality in Delhi-NCR had plummeted to severe grade, the Court had asked the Central Government and NCR steps to take emergency measures. The Bench had stated that the major causes of air pollution in Delhi are industries, power, vehicular traffic and construction, and not stubble burning as was sought to be projected.

Case Title: Aditya Dubey (Minor) & Anr vs Union of India & Ors

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